Head of the Gutenberg Museum moves to Weimar

Dhe timetable is up. And the “train”, which was put back on the tracks after the severe Bibelturm crash in 2018, will get rolling as planned even without them, promises Annette Ludwig, the departing head of the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, who plans to move to Weimar next spring. The fifty-eight-year-old is said to be the director of a total of 21 museums belonging to the Klassik Stiftung. Which, to put it mildly, is a dream job, as Mainz and Mayor Michael Ebling and Head of Culture Marianne Grosse (both SPD) have to acknowledge without envy.

Ludwig is assuming “one of the most prestigious positions that the museum landscape has to offer nationwide” at the second largest cultural foundation in Germany, according to a statement from the city, which, on the other hand, has so far been solely responsible for the financially relatively poorly funded World Museum of Printing Art in Mainz.

But that too, i.e. the question of sponsorship, should change as soon as possible in the course of the new conception also planned on the Rhine. Ludwig’s move “fills us with sadness, but also with pride,” said Ebling and Grosse after the “creative impulse giver” had left at the beginning of October.

Likes provincial cities with world fame: Annette Ludwig, director of the Gutenberg Museum, is drawn to Weimar for her dream job.


Likes provincial cities with world fame: Annette Ludwig, director of the Gutenberg Museum, is drawn to Weimar for her dream job.
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Image: Samira Schulz

To continue to “support the museum with words and deeds”

After almost twelve years in Mainz, the art historian speaks of a change from one “provincial town with world fame” to another – and also of the fact that after Gutenberg, Goethe and Gropius will play a central role in her working life in the future. She will remain connected to the Gutenberg Museum, which the Karlsruhe native took over in 2010, and would be happy to “provide advice and assistance if required”. In fact, hardly anyone is more likely to know better about the long overdue restructuring of the Mainz Museum on Liebfrauenplatz.

The history of printing: can be experienced in the Gutenberg Museum.


The history of printing: can be experienced in the Gutenberg Museum.
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Image: F1 Online Agency

In this context, the case of the Bible Tower, which at that time only existed as a draft, i.e. not yet built, has become firmly burned in the memory of the city, which was clearly rejected in a referendum. The intended expansion of the aging museum complex by a small area on Liebfrauenplatz, for which, among other things, three plane trees would have had to be felled, was intended as a prelude to a major redesign of the entire area. But in the end the project did not meet with the approval of the population – and this was mainly due to the weak demeanor of many town hall politicians.

Clarify the financing right from the start

The day after the unexpected, but ultimately democratic decision, Ludwig was already sitting together with her fellow campaigners to sweep up the broken pieces or “put the overturned train back up”, as she likes to put it. In the second attempt, a lot should be done better. It was thus possible that Rhineland-Palatinate and the federal government also participated in the present feasibility study for a modern Gutenberg Museum. The financing of the multi-million euro project should now also be clarified from the start and placed on a solid foundation. And because the citizens have declared their Liebfrauenplatz as sacrosanct, the intention is to create additional space on the back of the printing museum, which is to be expanded. The city acquired the neighboring Hotel Schwan as a precaution in order to accommodate the museum administration at this location in the future.

The tender for the necessary architectural competition is in progress, as is a new sponsorship model that includes the state, foundations and possibly even the federal government, Ludwig said on Wednesday in an interview with the FAZ. Ideally, demolition could take place in a good two years the Schellbau, which is no longer to be renovated, must be started. And after a further three years of construction, if things go well, the reopening of the Gutenberg Museum, which was previously to be outsourced, will be celebrated. According to the developed scenography concept, the intention is to remain a printing museum, but one in which, unlike before, there should be enough space for new media from now on.

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