House of the Weimar Republic
Forum for Democracy

The History of the Building

The House of the Weimar Republic was built as a carriage house according to the design of the classicist master builder Clemens Wenzeslaus Coudray at the start of the 19th century. The building was heavily damaged during World War II, with its neighboring artists’ residence almost completely destroyed. During the 1950s, an Art Gallery was built on the premises. It hosted temporary exhibitions that often generated a great deal of interest. The building served as a provisional location for the Bauhaus-Museum from 1995.
The decision to construct a new building on the Weimar Gallery grounds allowed the idea of a “House of the Weimar Republic” to take shape. Thanks to a grant from the federal government’s national urban construction projects program, the City of Weimar was able to launch an international architectural competition as the building contractor in 2017. The competition committee accepted 60 submissions and selected the Tuttlinger-based Muffler Architects firm. Its design pursued the goal of preserving the existing structure and expanding it with a new building in the Zeughof, the armory’s courtyard.

Coudray’s coach house 1919. © StadtA Weimar, 63 1-M/1, Foto/Repro: Ernst Schäfer
Coudray’s coach house 1919 © StadtA Weimar, 63 1-M/1, Foto/Repro: Ernst Schäfer
Annex building – to be opened in 2021. © Muffler Architekten
Annex building – to be opened in 2021 © Muffler Architekten

The Exhibition Design

The permanent exhibition in the Oberlichtsaal room of the former Art Gallery invites visitors to learn more about the Weimar Republic – from its revolutionary beginnings and political creation and consolidation to the peoples’ daily lives and the new opportunities offered by the Golden Twenties. It also illustrates the crises and challenges the young democracy struggled with. The exhibition consistently builds bridges from those times to the present, posing the question of the Weimar Republic’s significance for our democracy as it stands today. The modern design of the exhibition provides visitors with guidance thanks to a central timeline while also offering six topic-specific areas, each one affording an in-depth exploration of its topic. Films and video recordings of the time, accompanied by historical objects and interactive media exhibits, bring history alive.
After the new building’s construction is completed, the permanent exhibition will be flanked by regularly changing special exhibitions. The first such temporary exhibition is to be launched in spring 2021.

A Site for Political Education

As a Forum for Democracy, an important concern of the House is to comprehensively promote political education. The core aim is to build upon an understanding of the historical events of the Weimar Republic to spark discussions on opportunities and dangers for democracy while emphasizing the fact that the roots of German democracy lie far in the past. Working through the curriculum shall enable participants to define individual citizens’ responsibilities and duties that arise from the Weimar heritage.
A multi-purpose room on the sunny garden floor of the new building will be available for the educational program from 2021. This room will be used for courses with fixed dates and bookable group courses that allow for more in-depth work on the topics introduced in the permanent and temporary exhibitions. In this context, the House sees itself as a place of learning that involves the city around it in its educational work.

Research on the Weimar Republic

The Weimar Republic Research Center will move to the House of the Weimar Republic in 2021. It was established in 2016 at Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena with funding from the Thuringian Ministry for Economic Affairs, Science, and the Digital Society. The Center's goals are to develop a central platform for networking German and international Weimar research and to conduct its own research on the Weimar Republic, while also striving to obtain institutional and financial support for these endeavors.
Over the past years, the Center has worked together closely with Weimarer Republik e.V. and organized symposiums. It publishes Weimarer Schriften zur Republik, an independent academic periodical. Its interdisciplinary approach entails cooperation within a network of historians, political scientists, and legal scholars as well as representatives of related disciplines. These researchers contribute to work on the Weimar Republic and the conditions that allowed it to emerge as well as on its consequences, aftermath, and contextualization in Europe and beyond. This research focuses on the opportunities and dangers for the Republic and for democracy in the 20th and 21st centuries. In addition, the Center awards annual prizes for outstanding research on the Weimar Republic.

Academic conference in 2015
Academic conference in 2015