The Local Germany (19 August 2015)
With less than three weeks to go before ‘Grimmwelt’ opens its doors to the public, visitors to Kassel’s newest attraction can soon immerse themselves in the imaginations of two of Germany’s – and the world’s – most famous storytellers.
The Brothers Grimm are enshrined in European history.
From introducing the world to Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel and Cinderella, to penning the first ever German dictionary, Jacob and Wilhem Grimm have almost become a fairytale themselves.
And from September, Grimm fans visiting the city of Kassel in Hesse can explore the brothers’ lives and works in a whole new way.
Bringing old and new together
‘Grimmwelt‘ opens its doors on September 4th – and the €20 million project hopes to attract around 80,000 visitors per year.
The Grimmwelt experience begins in the entrance foyer, where a projector screens word after word in glowing green.
The words are in alphabetical order – and are the original 318,000 entries that brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm gathered together to create Germany’s first ever dictionary.
Each entry is only visible for a short time. Even so, it’ll take about 100 days to get from A to Z, claims Ecke Bonk, the artist behind the work.
On Tuesday, Kassel Mayor Bertram Hilgen and Grimmwelt chief executive Susanne Völker led a preview tour of the hotly anticipated attraction.
Grimmwelt has 26 separate exhibition rooms – and curators Annemarie Hürlimann and Nicola Lepp have allowed the dictionary theme to prevail throughout, with neon letters marking out every room.
The museum is a mix of original artefacts and more modern works. From authentic documents and a cupboard from the brothers’ home to an exclusive work by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, visitors can gain a glimpse of how Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm inspired both those around them and future generations.
“On one hand, the Brothers Grimm were collectors of fairytales, and on the other hand they were meticulous academics,” said Völker.
“Grimmwelt aims to give visitors an understanding of the complexity of the brothers’ work.”
From the Third Reich to Disney
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were born in Hanau in 1785 and 1786 respectively.
The brothers’ passion for folklore was sparked when they attended the University of Marburg. Soon after, the duo began collecting and recording German folk tales.
Their works have since been translated into over 100 languages, and formed the basis for films such as Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
In 1838, Jacob and Wilhem began work on the German dictionary.
Predictably, this was a mammoth task – and the dictionary remained unfinished when the brothers died more than 20 years later.
The Grimms’ fairytales were used as propaganda by the Third Reich, and were banned for a time in Allied-occupied Germany.
To this day, the tales remain controversial, with some parents deeming the stories too violent for children’s consumption.