Heinrich- and –Thomas- Mann- Center
The Buddenbrook-House is a literature museum and a research center for the Mann family, Heinrich and Thomas Mann and Buddenbrooks. The building was home to Heinrich and Thomas Mann’s grandparents from 1841 to 1890, and inspired the setting of the novel Buddenbrooks.
The Buddenbrook-House is currently closed due to extensive reconstruction measures. During the renovation, the exhibition: “Buddenbrooks im Behnhaus” is located at the nearby Museum Behnhaus Drägerhaus. Tony Buddenbrook gives a tour of the Mann family’s history in Lübeck, and traces the Hanseatic City’s influence on their childhood and adolescence in their works. In the Information Center and Museum Shop “Buddenbrooks am Markt” you can find information about the reconstruction work, and books, and much more about the Manns and their works.
In 1841, Johann Siegmund Mann Jr. purchased the house on Mengstraße 4, where Thomas Mann’s grandmother Consul Elisabeth Mann lived until 1890. In 1891, the Mann family sold the building to the city. Throughout the decades, it has served a variety of functions. In 1942, it was destroyed in an air raid, the façade and baroque cellar vault remained intact. A cooperative bank rebuilt it as a commercial building. In 1975, a Thomas Mann-Room was installed on the mezzanine floor. In 1991, the Hanseatic City of Lübeck bought the house with the support of its residents, the federal government, and the state of Schleswig-Holstein. Two years later, it opened as the Heinrich –and- Thomas- Mann- Center with a permanent exhibition, collection, special library and archive. The museum was redesigned for the EXPO 2000 and acquired two permanent exhibitions: “The Manns – a family of authors” and “The Buddenbrooks – Novel of the Century.”
The Buddenbrook-House today
The Buddenbrook-House / Heinrich–and-Thomas-Mann-Center is a literature museum dedicated to Thomas Mann’s novel Buddenbrooks, as well as to the Mann family and their literary works. “Without a birthplace there can be no cosmopolitanism,” Heinrich Mann wrote in 1945 – the history of the world-famous Mann family of writers began in Lübeck. In this respect, and as the setting for Thomas Mann’s major Lübeck novel Buddenbrooks, the Museum and Research Center feels a special obligation towards Lübeck in all its areas of activity. As an exhibition and event venue, the museum’s mission is to inspire a passion for literature, stimulate visitors’ curiosity, encourage a lasting engagement with literature, initiate or deepen debates on social issues, and communicate the cultural legacy of the Mann family. At the same time, the Buddenbrook–House is a research center focusing on scholarly explorations of the Mann family and its literature.
The Buddenbrook-House is currently closed due to the comprehensive renovation project “The NEW Buddenbrook-House”: The neighboring property on Mengstraße 6, which was purchased by the federal government, allowed the Buddenbrook-House to double its space. “From family home to humanity” – Heinrich Mann’s words set the tone for the permanent exhibition in the NEW Buddenbrook-House. Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks and Heinrich Mann’s Small town tyrant form the literary core of the new permanent exhibition.
The NEW Buddenbrook-House regards itself as a space that encourages visitors to explore, discover and experience the exhibition on their own. It aims to be a museum in Thomas Mann’s spirit, for “the few [...] and the many,” for the few experts, and the many interested individuals.
The design competition was launched in October 2017. In March 2018, a jury selected the winning design that will be implemented for construction. The NEW Buddenbrook-House will probably reopen to the public in 2024.
Resources and Program
The archive contains about 3,000 letters, correspondence and numerous individual autographed manuscripts by Heinrich and Thomas Mann and family members. In addition, there are partial estates from the Mann family in Lübeck, and those who were involved with the brothers Thomas and Heinrich Mann, portraits of the family, and objects from the family’s estate. The Samuel Fischer Library is a research library specializing in the Mann family that includes a reception archive, photo archive and media library.
The number of library visitors ranges between 44,000 to 50,000 annually. In addition to the two permanent exhibitions, the museum organizes two to four special exhibitions per year, guided tours (highlights, house tour, red wine tour, literary walks, lunch at the museum), readings (debut series, LiteraTour Nord, book presentations), as well as concerts, “Christmas with the Buddenbrooks”, poetry slam, participation in the museum night, workshops for school children. The Buddenbrook-House organizes conferences, including the annual meetings of the German Thomas Mann Society and the Heinrich Mann Society.
Funding and Partners
The Buddenbrook-House is supported by the Cultural Foundation of the Hanseatic City of Lübeck. The institution is financed by the Hanseatic City of Lübeck. In addition, funds are provided by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media and the State of Schleswig-Holstein. Foundations in Lübeck and outside of Lübeck, such as the Possehl Foundation and the Commerzbank Foundation have provided additional financing for projects.