Filling Historic Houses with Culture and Education

Interview with Eva Löber

"We want to forge a link between the past, the present and the future."
Eva Löber, Managing Director of the Cranach Foundation

The Cranach Foundation is an important player in Wittenberg. What is its objective?


Eva Löber: Our primary objective is to renovate and maintain buildings in cooperation with the city. Specifically, the buildings Lucas Cranach the Elder once lived and worked in. Even during the building-related work, we have always thought of and organised a cultural usage.

What kind of cultural usage do you mean?

Eva Löber: 20 years ago, when we started, we had the ruins of the buildings with nothing of Cranach’s inside. We exhibited contemporary art – and disappointed some visitors who were keen to come into contact with the artist and his works. Since 2003, we have presented a permanent exhibition about Cranach alongside temporary contemporary art exhibitions. This complies with our approach which resists presenting the Cranach houses at Markt 4 and Schlossstraße 1 as museums and upholds them with modern, lively usages. This forges a link between the past, the present and the future.

Holding exhibitions – that sounds very much like a museum.

Eva Löber: In the courts we have the workshops of a goldsmith, a ceramicist, a sculptor, paper artists and a historic print shop. The first translation of the New Testament into German by Martin Luther was printed here at the house at Markt 4! There’s an apothecary and an inn, after all Cranach was also a wine merchant. All our modern usages have a connection to what Cranach did.

He is known above all as a painter.

Eva Löber: Our most important mainstay is a painting school. Here, as in Cranach’s day, the classes are led by painters – freelance artists rather than teachers. Most of our courses are aimed at children and young people, and we have a number of projects with schools. By now our subscribers include groups and families who attend separate painting courses for parents and children. These stay in our hostel. Last summer the “Farbenküche” (paint kitchen) was established, a workshop where paints based on historic examples are made.

A hostel?

Eva Löber: A hostel was established in the front-building at Schlossstraße 1. It was finished in summer 2009. The project was a huge challenge because we wanted to preserve the basic structure of the historic building. This resulted in spacious yet modest rooms, and now people may live in Cranach’s house as his assistants did in the past.

How does all this fit into the IBA motto “CAMPUS Wittenberg”?

Eva Löber: As the “WORKSHOP IN CAMPUS”, the hostel, the classes and facilities offered at the Cranach Courts make up one of the IBA projects. And even without this, the link is clear: The Cranach Foundation aims, with the preservation of the buildings and as an educational institution, to invigorate the historic town centre. Its concept brings new temporary residents into the town.

How is the Cranach Foundation involved in the IBA process?

Eva Löber: It’s a member of the CAMPUS association, whose educational concept we strongly support through our proposals. The association is a useful body open to development. With the hostel and the painting school, which has existed as an EXPO project since 1996, we contribute to the vitality of the town centre.

Not least, the Cranach Foundation has 20 years of experience with citizens’ engagement …

Eva Löber: The intensive endeavours of the people of Wittenberg to save the rundown Cranach Courts towards the end of the GDR era resulted in an association being set up, from which the Foundation developed. With over 200 members across Germany, the association is still very active. The Foundation itself is supported by more than 60 volunteers. With just three of us working full time, we couldn’t manage without them. At Schlossstraße 1, two wings are still in very poor condition. We are working jointly with the city so that this section too can be renovated.

Info: Lutherstadt Wittenberg

(Municipal Area of 2010)
1989: 65.669
2009: 50.113
2025: 38.924 (Future Prospect)

Municipal Area: 240,32 qkm

Website Campus Wittenberg