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Goethe in Strasbourg 1770-1771, the awakening of a genius

The Museums of Strasbourg are holding an exhibition to mark the 250th anniversary of the arrival of Johann Wolfgang Goethe in Strasbourg. It was during his stay in this city, at once a frontier post and a crossing point between France and Germany, that he discovered its cosmopolitan culture.

To visualise the decisive impact of this period on his work, the exhibition brings together some 120 works from Strasbourg Museums or public and private collections. It renews our awareness of this little known stage in the great poet's life, described in his autobiographical memoir Dichtung und Wahrheit and, more generally, it recalls a rich period in the life of the Alsatian city. The exhibition has two aims: firstly, to throw light on the conditions of the young Goethe's stay and the cultural circles in which he moved, helping Strasbourg to become the cradle of the Sturm und Drang movement. Secondly, it aims to show how Goethe's sojourn in Strasbourg has come to acquire a memorial or even a mythological status. Indeed, despite its brevity, it has continued to be celebrated up to the present day. The exhibition, organized in partnership with the National and University Library of Strasbourg, has provided this opportunity of presenting its exceptional collections of original editions and manuscripts.

Exhibition Curators: Florian Siffer, conservation assistant in charge of the Prints and Drawings Room, Aude Therstappen, curator responsible for German language archives at the BNU