Thomas Mann House
The Thomas Mann House is a residence and transatlantic space for debate, where outstanding personalities, in dialogue with each other and the host country, address fundamental contemporary and future issues related to politics, society, and culture. The Thomas Mann house is a residency center owned by the Federal Republic of Germany. With its interdisciplinary program, the Thomas Mann House is committed to the spirit of Thomas Mann and is dedicated to tackling the pressing challenges of our time.
The house in Pacific Palisades, a neighborhood located on the westside of Los Angeles, was designed in 1941 by the architect Julius Ralph Davidson for the Manns in the style of “California Modernism”. Thomas and Katia Mann moved into the villa in 1942, and lived there until 1952. After they returned to Switzerland, they sold it to the lawyer Chester Lappen. It was then rented out by his family from 2012 onwards, and in 2016, the villa finally was offered for sale. Soon many opponents of a likely teardown made their voices heard with the shared goal of preserving the house as a place of remembrance and debate, including Germany’s Foreign Minister/Secretary of State Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Monika Grütters, State Commissioner for Cultural Affairs and the Media and Herta Müller, who like Thomas Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
In November 2016, the Federal Foreign Office acquired the property for the Federal Government of Germany. After the renovation, the Thomas Mann House was inaugurated by the then Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on June 18, 2018. Since April 2017, the current residence has been owned by Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e. V.
The Thomas Mann House today
The former home of the Mann family, with its original kitchen and reconstructed library in Thomas Mann’s former study, has been used as a residence and place of debate since August 2018. The Thomas Mann Fellows living in the house are dedicated to tackling the pressing challenges of our time and cultivating intellectual and cultural exchange between Germany and the USA.
The Thomas Mann House builds on the socio-political work of the Nobel Laureate in Literature. It brings together German and American interlocutors from different disciplines, intellectual and artistic traditions, and political backgrounds. Fellowships and events facilitate encounters and intellectual exchange. Various media formats allow important voices from Germany and the United States to be heard and bring them into an open dialogue with the wider public. Through lecture tours, workshops and symposia as well as contributions in radio and digital media, the program broadcasts to other states in the USA as well as to Germany. As part of the cultural, scientific and political networks in Southern California, the Thomas Mann House is a place where German-American relations receive important impulses.
Resources and Program
The Thomas Mann Fellowships for a three to ten-month stay in the Thomas Mann House are announced to the public once a year. An independent, interdisciplinary advisory committee selects between 10 and 12 fellows per year. Intellectuals and personalities from the fields of culture, the humanities and natural sciences, economics, politics and media living in Germany may apply. Projects must address fundamental contemporary issues relevant to both shores of the Atlantic. Thomas Mann Fellows are expected to be willing to travel within the United States to meet and engage in a dialogue with new partners, particularly outside of the major cities.
The Thomas Mann House team conceives and organizes programs based on fellows’ research projects, and aims to reach a broad public in Los Angeles and far beyond. Public events take place in cooperation with local and national partner institutions.
Due to its use as a residence and its location in an exclusive residential area of Los Angeles, the Thomas Mann House cannot be opened to regular visitors. However, smaller events such as expert discussions, lectures and salon evenings are held by invitation.
Once the fellows return from LA, the Berlin office organizes events that present the results of their stay at the Thomas Mann House at various locations throughout Germany.
Under the auspices of Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e. V., the Thomas Mann House is home to a residency program which offers intellectuals and visionaries an opportunity to engage in an exchange about the most important questions of our time – with each other as well as with their host country.
Funding and Partners
The Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e. V., is an independent cultural mediator and runs the Thomas Mann House as well as the Villa Aurora. Since 1995, the Villa Aurora, the former residence of Lion and Marta Feuchtwanger, has been home to an artists-in-residence program. The two houses are about 10 minutes away from each other by car.
The association with its management based in Berlin is funded by the Federal Foreign Office, the State Commissioner for Cultural Affairs and the Media. Cooperation partners and sponsors of the Thomas Mann House are the Berthold Leibinger Stiftung, the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung, the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Goethe-Institut.
A German program director is in charge of the Thomas Mann House Fellowship Program.