WELCOME TO THE MUSEUM OF GERMAN EARLY ROMANTICISM!
Today’s Museum of Literature was once the residential building of the philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Constructed in 1669, the building was situated on the outskirts of the town, but still inside the city wall.
IT IS THE LAST HOUSE
of this residential district to have survived the times. Once, a great number of memorial tablets decorated the unadorned façade, remembering its famous occupants. Among them also the philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte who had come to Jena in the year 1794. He had been registered in the Ratsgüterbuch (property register) as purchaser of the house. The announcement of a lecture corroborates this entry: »My lecture hall is in my flat near the market place, next to the old fencing room, where more information about this lecture can be found.«
During your tour of the museum, you will pass three levels in accordance with the floors of the building differing from each other also in their colours. The stairwell as ascending connecting element has been painted in yellow shades intensifying gradually until obtaining a golden tint at the third level to show the visitor that he has reached the »Golden Age«.
THE REPUBLIC OF SCHOLARS
The Jena Early Romanticism exhibition shows the historic-cultural and intellectual background for the revolt of a young generation of poets, literary critics, philosophers and natural scientists. What had the conditions been which made Jena develop into the most progressive intellectual centre of Germany between 1785 and 1803? What was it that lured the philosophers Reinhold, Fichte and Schelling, the theologians Griesbach or Paulus, the poet Schiller and the natural scientists Loder, Lenz, Hufeland, Stark and Batsch into a town of about 4.500 inhabitants? Not least because of these names the number of students doubled to about 800 in the nineties of the 18th century.
THE EARLY ROMANTICS
While the first level of the exhibition reflects the intellectual-cultural aura of Jena, the second one picks the Early Romanticism out as a central theme. Starting from the publishing activities in Jena, the importance of Frommann and his circle of friends, as well as the literature-related conditions around 1800, the foundation of the »Athenaeum« is shown as a program guide of the Early Romantic Movement. The fragments displayed as »wasp’s nest« illustrate the dispute of the Jena circle with selected contemporaries. The demand of the Early Romantics for modern literature leads to conceptional considerations on the Romantic poetry. The search for a new mythology is depicted in interplay with the views of Goethe and Schiller and substantiated with examples from the fine arts. The revolution of thoughts of the Early Romantics »to make life and society poetic« leads to an alternative outline of life. The following exhibition room is dedicated to the Romantic society. Also the adjacent room draws the visitor's attention to the social intercourse and literary works. The theatre stage installed gives multiple opportunities for performances beside the exhibition. lf required, a projection surface behind the decoration can be used for film shows or computer-controlled picture projections about Romantic painting.
The upper floor represents a merging of the exhibition level with lines of the first and second level as regards content. To manifest this synthesis, the prevailing colour of these rooms is green. With Friedrich J. W. Schelling constituting the link to the philosophers of the first level, the association of the Early Romantic view of nature with the philosophy of nature and the fine arts is shown. An experimental cabinet of the physicist Johann Wilhelm Ritter elucidates the scientific involvement of the Early Romantics and the complexity of Romantic thinking between natural science, social criticism and vision of the future. The passage through a modelled mine gallery shall, according to the spirit of Novalis, not only be a way inwards, but enable the visitor to experience sensuously the encounter with the poetic work of Novalis.
A part of the third exhibition level is reserved for temporary exhibitions on special themes associated with Romanticism.