Thomo Manno kulturos centras/Thomas Mann Cultural Center
The Thomas Mann Cultural Center in Nida (Nidden) on the Curonian Spit in Lithuania has been a Lithuanian-German cultural center since 1996. It is located in the former summer house of the Mann family. The building also houses the Thomas Mann Museum with an exhibition on the history of the Thomas Mann House before and after 1945, as well as a library on the Mann family and their works.
In the summer of 1929, Thomas Mann paid a short visit to the fishing village of Nida after spending some time in Königsberg. He was so delighted by the landscape that he signed a contract to build and furnish a summer house in the area. The family spent their summer vacations there from 1930 to 1932, but after they moved to Switzerland in 1933, the political situation made it impossible to travel there. In 1967, the Lithuanian writer and Minister of Culture Antanas Venclova rescued the house from ruin. Thanks to his incentive, they established it as a memorial site. Even before the fall of the Wall, the house opened its doors to German visitors in 1989. The Mann family refrained from reclaiming the house out of respect for the local initiative. Starting in 1995, the property was renovated with funds from entities, including the German government and subsequently inaugurated the Thomas Mann Cultural Center. The restoration was based on the original architect’s surviving documents and the memories of Mann’s daughter Elisabeth. The writer’s living room, terrace and study were completely restored. In 1996, the museum was opened in the summer house. The exhibition texts are available in three languages (Lithuanian, English, German).
As no original exhibits have survived, Lithuanian designers and artists were contracted to furnish the house with reproductions of art objects such as a desk. Since 1997, the center organizes an annual cultural festival. The Thomas Mann Cultural Center is the most visited museum in Lithuania with 50,000 visitors annually.
The Thomas Mann Cultural Center today
It functions not only as memorial and literary museum, but more than that is also a forum for cultural and scientific encounters on an international basis in the Baltic region. It regards itself as a space which promotes ideas of good neighborliness, humanism and cosmopolitanism. The diverse activities of the center are characterized by European thinking. In the spirit of Thomas Mann, the Center aims to engage people, especially young people on the divided Curonian Spit, in a conversation that traverses national and generational borders. It aims to enhance the diversity and quality of the cultural programming in the region and support the development of cultural tourism.
Resources and Program
These goals are implemented through a broad range of services. These include: educational events for young academics, international seminars and academic conferences in the fields of German studies, history of memory and cultural history, as well as translation workshops that support young translators and encourage literary exchange. Regularly ongoing cultural events include: workshops, exhibitions, readings, chamber concerts and theme-based fireside evenings.
The summer festival is the Center’s most important and largest event. The program is organized within the framework of festival cycles that last several years with an annual thematic focus which - usually based on a quote from Thomas Mann - addresses contemporary socio-political issues. The Center organizes events on and with music, literature, discussion, film and visual arts.
Funding and Partners
The Cultural Center and the museum are linked closely. As an NGO, the Cultural Center is financed exclusively by third-party funds, the museum is supported by the local administration and the Lithuanian state. Regular funding comes from the Goethe-Institut and the Lithuanian Cultural Council. The Cultural Center is managed by an international board of trustees, which is also responsible for the program. The Förderverein Thomas-Mann-Haus e. V. raises funds especially for the financing of the summer festival.