The NEW Buddenbrookhaus Lübeck

Client: Hansestadt Lübeck

Year: 2028

Museums and exhibitions

The Buddenbrookhaus in Lübeck is one of the most successful literary museums in Germany. The house at Mengstraße 4 is equally famous as the setting for Thomas Mann's novel The Buddenbrooks and as the ancestral home of the Mann family. With the acquisition of the building at Mengstraße 6, the museum will receive additional premises in the future and can thus significantly increase its exhibition space to around 800 square metres. Behind the historic facades, both of which will be preserved, a new building will be constructed that will offer visitors a tour of the permanent and the special exhibition. The library, museum education centre and shop will also be housed in the building.

facts and fiction has been commissioned with all core services such as scenography, graphic concept, media concept, exhibition technology and lighting design for the extensive permanent exhibition. In ten stations, the life of the two brothers Thomas and Heinrich Mann and their family is told from Lübeck out into the world. The content focuses on the biographies and literary works and combines to form a holistic narrative against the backdrop of current events. Starting from the historic merchant's parlour in the Buddenbrookhaus, which invites visitors to travel back in time, they learn what it means to be a writer. They get to know the brothers' families and experience the changes over time from the glorious 1920s to the rise of National Socialism, which ultimately led to the Mann family fleeing into exile. After returning to Europe from exile in America, the exhibition concludes with a look at the Mann myth, which continues to have an impact today and reflects the impressive history of a family dynasty in all its facets. The so-called literary islands form an essential aspect of the narrative. One or two literary works are assigned to each station, consisting of an object-like and an auditory staging. Like a walk-in audio book, visitors can immerse themselves in the literary world of the Manns.

Each station is characterised by its own individual spatial image. These settings form the framework for a wide variety of exhibits as well as analogue and media stations. Visitors first experience a real Lübeck merchant's parlour, explore the Mann brothers' desks, enter the family album and find themselves in the middle of Thomas and Heinrich Mann's fraternal quarrel, which is literally brought to life. The socio-political state of the glittering 1920s and the threat of emerging National Socialism are translated into a very concrete spatial situation that literally transfers this atmosphere of openness and anxiety to the visitors. With the actual transition across a bridge from one house to another, the architecture also makes the passage into exile comprehensible for visitors and leads on from the passport station via the sea container to the American exile in Pacific Palisades. The time in Switzerland is symbolised by an impressive showcase element in the form of a Swiss cross, before a colourful and varied desk installation finally depicts the activities and places of work of the Mann children and their constant connections with each other.

The narrative of the content works mainly via quotes from the individual protagonists, which are interwoven with photos, pictures, original exhibits, books and other objects in extensive and varied wallpaper. Interactive exhibits such as a literary machine or a printing press, a map of Germany with swivelling monitors and a kinetic model, which juxtaposes the different construction and usage phases of the literary Buddenbrookhaus, vividly and entertainingly convey the respective content. 

The exhibition is organised in its diversity by recurring formats that provide visitors with orientation. The islands of literature can be recognised by their ink-blue colour and a circular shape, which is reflected in the respective symbol or object. The senders of the individual quotes are not only labelled by name, but also provided with illustrations specially created by the artist Tina Berning.

The project is being realised on behalf of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck/Building Management and in close cooperation with the Buddenbrookhaus/Kulturstiftung Lübeck.

The main project partners are TMH+S Architekten Lübeck. The project will be realised in stages until 2028.