Towards the end of this post, I showed you a view across the river Neckar valley of a beautiful big house on the hill. I mentioned that I was going to do an extra post about it, and here it is.
That big house on the hill is the Schiller Nationalmuseum. Friedrich Schiller was a poet and playwright, and like many of his kind, he was also politically active and often used his writing to accuse (openly or veiled) the misdeeds of the ruling class, namely the then Duke of Wuerttemberg (Wuerttemberg wasn't a kingdom yet at the time). This got him into trouble more than once, but did not stop him.
Schiller lived from 1759 to 1805. He was born in the small town of Marbach, situated near my hometown. Here, in Ludwigsburg, he spent most of his childhood and youth. I won't tell you the whole story of his life here - you can read a lot about him on wikipedia. Let it suffice to say that he became famous and to this day continues to be considered one of Germany's most important poets and playwrights. You all know the "Ode to Joy", don't you? The music is from Ludwig van Beethoven, but the lyrics were Schiller's, written when he was 26 years old.
Back to the main topic of this post now:
90 years after Schiller's death, in 1895, it was decided that a museum dedicated to the works of this great son of Marbach was to be built there. In 1901, work began on the building you can see today.
In 1955, the Deutsche Literaturarchiv (German Literature Archive) was founded there. The necessity of more space soon became apparent. Other buildings were added on the top of the hill above Marbach, and nowadays, it is almost a small town in its own right, with the beautiful white building at its centre.
To the left (not really visible in my photo) is the 1970s-built complex of the actual archives and offices (there are more offices in the attic of the museum). To the right is the "Literaturmuseum der Moderne", opened in 2006 (click here for the English wikipedia entry). A bit further down the hill, to the right of the museum, is a hostel where students, authors and professors can stay while doing research work in the archives, sometimes for months.
Inside the hill, underground, is a maze of archive storage rooms, vaults and walkways, connecting all the buildings except for the hostel.
It is a fascinating world, and a changing one, too. The times when literature largely happened in print are long gone. Nowadays, no museum or institution about literature can give a comprehensive overview without a multimedial approach, and Marbach is no exception. Not everybody is happy about this, but we can't stop or reverse the development. Still, I think the archive and museum people are doing a good job of incorporating the new with the old, without allowing the new to completely take over at the risk of losing the old.