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The German Museum of Books and Writing of the German National Library and Seminar für Kommunikationswissenschaft at the University of Erfurt receive funding from the German Federal Cultural Foundation

Press release:  November 10, 2015

The German Federal Cultural Foundation is providing EUR 121,000 of funding for an exhibition partnership between the German Museum of Books and Writing of the German National Library and Seminar für Kommunikationswissenschaft at the University of Erfurt. The project with the working title "Menschen-Bilder universal. Die populäre Infografik der 1920er-Jahre – Fritz Kahn und Otto Neurath" focuses on a highly topical subject, yet one which is already 100-years old. The funding is being provided as part of the "Fellowship Internationales Museum" initiative launched in 2011 by the German Federal Cultural Foundation aimed at attracting high-calibre young academics and curators from abroad to museums in Germany.

"At the turn of the 20th century a globalised view of the world became established which created the new images and forms of communication which are at the heart of our project," said Dr. Stephanie Jacobs, head of the German Museum of Books and Writing. Be it the world language Esperanto, or pictograms as components of a global language: the complexity of social processes engendered a desire for simple rules and orientation which in turn gave rise to a new panoply of images in the field of design. The rapidly decipherable and non-language-based pictogram was eye-catching in its form and colour; it soon gained in popularity and left an internationalised world of images in its wake which satisfied the increasing information appetite of a growing middle-class audience.

The "Menschen-Bilder universal" exhibition project focuses on this visualisation impetus and two specific responses from the then new field of information graphics to the flood of information in the new media. "We are contributing to the current debate about a new information economy by exploring the positions of Otto Neurath and Fritz Kahn who, to this day, remain two of the key innovators in this field," explains Prof. Dr. Patrick Rössler, the project manager at the University of Erfurt.

The exhibition, which is scheduled for display in Leipzig in 2017, is planned as a touring exhibition with stops in Vienna, Reading (University) and New York (Leo Baeck Institute). It makes use of scenographic elements to transport Kahn's and Neurath's figurations into a three-dimensional world.

Background

The book has shaped our culture and civilisation like no other medium. For centuries our knowledge about the world and its peoples has been stored in books. The task of the German Book and Writing Museum of the German National Library is to collect, exhibit and process evidence of book and media history. Founded in 1884 in Leipzig as the Deutsches Buchgewerbemuseum (German Book Trade Museum), it is the oldest museum in the world in the field of book culture, and also one of the most important with regard to the scope and quality of its stocks.

The main focus is on the book and its myriad aspects: as an ingenious invention and as the product of economic and technical processes, as a social icon and the most important vehicle of culture, as a work of art and as a censored and burned repository of ideas.

One of the areas of research in the Seminar für Kommunikationswissenschaft at the University of Erfurt focuses on visual communication in a historical perspective. Prof. Dr. Patrick Rössler devoted several of his projects to the "Iconic Turn" in the interwar period, in particular the emergence of illustrated magazines and the "new typography". Important exhibition projects curated by him include "Das Bauhaus am Kiosk" (Berlin/Weimar 2007/2009) and "Die Werbegrafik von Herbert Bayer 1928 - 1938" (Berlin/Mainz 2013/2014).

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