Identity and Mandate of the Richard Wagner Museum Bayreuth
Identity and Mandate of the Richard Wagner Museum Bayreuth
The Richard Wagner Museum Bayreuth is an important piece of German cultural heritage where the life, works and lasting influence of Richard Wagner are researched and presented in a unique ambience, and brought to life for in a multi-sensory experience. The authentic living and working environment and the tremendous cultural significance of the house with its turbulent, ambivalent and even dubious history, combined with the sheer sophistication of the sensory feast imparted by the permanent collection, as well as a wide variety of events and special exhibitions, make repeated visits to the Museum an inspirational experience for cognoscenti and laymen alike.
Since its opening in 1976, in keeping with the statutes of the Richard Wagner Foundation which operates it, the Richard Wagner Museum with the National Archives and Research Centre at Wahnfried House has been a centre for research and communication focused on the life and works of Richard Wagner and the performance history of the Bayreuth Festival. The mandate, as set out in the Richard Wagner Foundation statutes, is to preserve and research the composer’s legacy, extend the collection and make it available to the public in the form and to the standards of a museum in order to convey a proper understanding of his life and works. The Museum is a collection point, archives, research centre and exhibition space. The great hall was also used for concerts and other events. In addition to the unique and very valuable document collection comprising the literary legacy of Richard and Cosima Wagner, with handwritten works, music scores and manuscripts, letters and autobiographical records, as well as numerous letters to Richard Wagner and his family, the archives include an academic library with extensive source and special collections, as well as picture and sound archives, all of which serve as a central resource for research which is available to scientific researchers and other interested members of the public.
From the very beginning, the Museum in Wahnfried House has been one of the most important attractions both in the city and the region for visitors from around the world, not least due to its prestigious rooms, and the permanent exhibition containing numerous exhibits drawn from the life, works and influence of Richard Wagner. Of particular interest are those originating from the City of Bayreuth’s Richard Wagner Memorial collection from 1925 that was moved in its entirety to the Richard Wagner Museum collection in Wahnfried House in 1976. It is an outstanding cultural site, which in 2006 was granted the accolade “Place of Ideas” as part of the “Germany – Land of Ideas” initiative under the patronage of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany.
After more than 30 years , the Richard Wagner Museum has been renovated and extended and is today a modern, attractive and popular museum institution, perfectly attuned to its purpose and mission. In addition to its exhibition remit, it is a global centre for scientific documentation and research, located in the most historically authentic location possible . The focus is on the exploration of the life and work of Richard Wagner – in particular the history of their ambivalent reception, influence and ideology – conveyed using modern didactic methods in a contemporary museum environment.
The aim is to strengthen the connection of public interest and the internationally-networked scientific community, and to facilitate the participation of all those interested in art and culture. In this way, the universal cultural phenomenon spanning time and space that was Wagner, being a manifestation of German intellectual, musical and theatrical history as significant as it was momentous, and with global international importance and impact right up to the present day – especially in relation to the Bayreuth Festival – is imparted experientially with diversity, understanding and emotional depth.
The Museum with National Archives and research centre located in Bayreuth have a very special link with culture and the natural landscape. Influenced by monuments to Baroque architecture with the Margravial opera house – declared a UNESCO world cultural heritage – at its centre, the city of Bayreuth has a strong cultural atmosphere, not only due to its association with Richard Wagner and the Bayreuth Festival. Bayreuth’s widely diverse museum culture is dedicated to other artists of international historical and cultural renown who lived and worked here, such as Jean Paul and Franz Liszt.
Safeguard, preserve, mediate
Richard Wagner was involved to a great extent in the planning of “Wahnfried“ – the first house he owned, which was financed by his royal benefactor Ludwig II of Bavaria. After his death, it remained in the Wagner family until 1966. Heavily damaged by the war after 1945, the house was reconstructed between 1974 and 1976, true to the original. Retaining the listed building in perpetuity is the pre-requisite of all future museum and scientific activities. To this end, safeguarding, preserving and making accessible the multifaceted and outstanding cultural-historical heritage in the Richard Wagner Foundation National Archives remain the fundamental principles.
Collect, Research, Exhibit
The new permanent exhibition intends to pass on information and introduce its central theme not only by means of original documents: its multimedia presentation invites visitors to experience the multifaceted works of Richard Wagner in a reflective and critical manner. The prerequisites for a well-founded and attractive exhibition are, on the one hand, independent scientific research, and on the other, the continual development of the collection using specialist criteria. In addition to the permanent exhibition, special exhibitions complement the Museum’s mediation work, opening up new perspectives on the subject. Smaller presentations can also be mounted as touring exhibitions, shown in a variety of locations both in Germany and abroad.
For the sustainable and long-lasting safeguarding, preservation and storage of valuable objects and unique documents, we have a modern storage facility that meets international technical and conservational standards.
International Research Centre
The Richard Wagner Museum has become an internationally important centre for study and knowledge, not least thanks to the National Archives and research centre. Here, wide-ranging educational programmes are developed to disseminate information to scholars, students and audiences of all ages. Wagner’s works are presented in a historical and topical context, with the arc extending right up to the present day. The Museum regards itself as an international forum for the responsible handling of the composer’s important cultural historical heritage.