A world-class institute for the study of art and culture, that tracks themes and symbols across time and space, is set to benefit from a £3m investment by a German foundation. This gift, the largest ever donation to the University of London, will secure the future of the Warburg Institute and help it to reach new people.
The institute, part of the University of London since 1944 and a founding member of the School of Advanced Study, is planning a major capital development, known as the ‘Warburg Renaissance’, to transform both the Bloomsbury building and the services it offers. The project has been boosted by a generous donation of £2m from the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, a Hamburg-based foundation, which is a significant milestone towards the institute’s fundraising target. The foundation had previously made a lead donation of £1m to the project in 2018.
The Warburg Institute was honoured to host Mr Hermann-Hinrich Reemtsma, the foundation’s founder, members of the Reemtsma family and representatives from the foundation, on a visit to London in summer 2019. This was the last trip Hermann-Hinrich made before he died in 2020, and the £2m gift was pledged in tribute to Hermann-Hinrich, whose support and enthusiasm for the project was evident during the visit. The institute and the university are sincerely grateful to the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung for its unprecedented generosity.
“We are grateful for the support of the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung and moved by the opportunity to honour Hermann-Hinrich Reemtsma himself. The gift will not only allow us to transform our building in Bloomsbury, but strengthen our ties to the city of Hamburg, where the institute was born,” says Professor Bill Sherman, the Warburg Institute’s director.
Founded by Aby Warburg (1866–1929), the pioneering German historian of art and culture, the institute quickly became a world-leading centre for studying the interaction of ideas, images and society. It attracted Germany’s greatest scholars and Warburg’s pioneering work continues to inspire some of the world’s most influential academics, curators and artists. Now it is regarded as one of London’s best-kept secrets and an international beacon for interdisciplinary research.
The Warburg Renaissance will create new spaces and programmes, allowing the institute to build its community and offer its expertise to new audiences. In addition, it will host artists, curators, writers and translators-in-residence; serve as a laboratory for experimental exhibitions; provide a haven for exiled, itinerant and visiting scholars; and connect with leaders in digital technology to share collections and explore Aby Warburg’s pioneering work on images. This will include a touch-screen version of his groundbreaking ‘Bilderatlas Mnemosyne’ (Mnemosyne Atlas), Aby Warburg’s personal vision of inter-related images from antiquity, which featured in an acclaimed exhibition and award-winning book in 2020.
Bernhard Reemtsma, chairman of Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung and son of Hermann-Hinrich Reemtsma, said: “We are deeply grateful that the University of London gave Aby Warburg’s world-famous library a safe home and a new life after its emigration from Hamburg. Now this fine building by Charles Holden is in need of refurbishment and extension. The project will enable the Warburg Institute to continue and to advance its commitment to the understanding of cultural relations in the past, present and future. That is why my father was determined to visit, and to make a contribution from Hamburg to this second renaissance.”
The Warburg Institute is one of the world’s leading centres for studying the interaction of ideas, images and society. It is dedicated to the survival and transmission of culture across time and space, with a special emphasis on the afterlife of antiquity. Its open-stack Library, Photographic Collection and Archive serve as an engine for interdisciplinary research, postgraduate teaching and a prestigious events and publication programme. Find out more at https://warburg.sas.ac.uk/. Twitter: @Warburg_News
The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled resources, facilities and academic opportunities across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. Last year SAS welcomed 996 research fellows and associates, held 1,500 events highlighting the latest research in the humanities, received 31.6 million online visits to its research resources and platforms, and hosted 100,119 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads Being Human, the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities. Find out more at www.sas.ac.uk or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews.
The Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung is a private and non-profit foundation based in Hamburg. It supports cultural and social projects in Northern and East Germany, occasionally in Poland and England. The foundation is a funding partner for institutions and initiatives that preserve cultural heritage and make it accessible to the public. A special emphasis lies on building culture and museum collections. Furthermore the foundation works in the fields of family and youth welfare as well as the care for the sick and disabled. It focuses on supporting people to help themselves and on strengthening initiative, entrepreneurial thinking and public spirit. http://www.hermann-reemtsma- stiftung.de
The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in higher education. It consists of 17 independent member institutions of outstanding reputation, together with a number of prestigious central academic bodies and activities. Learn more about the University of London at https://www.london.ac.uk