The nearly 200-year-old house in the heart of Sils Maria, where Friedrich Nietzsche spent seven summers (1881 and 1883-1888), was owned by the Durisch family and continued to be privately owned for many years after Nietzsche’s visits. At times, the neighboring Edelweiss Hotel used the House as staff quarters. In 1958, the building was supposed to be sold and become a commercial property, which would have entailed extensive structural changes. Luckily, this never happened. Instead a group of patrons who recognized the cultural and historical value of the House and wanted to open it to a broader public made an idealistic financial commitment, setting up the ‘Nietzsche House Sils-Maria Foundation’ in 1959. They purchased the House, had it carefully renovated and opened a museum there. On August 25, 1960, the 60th anniversary of Nietzsche’s death, it opened its doors to the public for the first time. The Foundation, which continues to be responsible for the house, has three main objectives:
First, comprehensive exhibits document the philosopher’s life and work. The House is also a guesthouse, study and research center, which keeps the museum dust from settling over it. The Foundation provides scholars and culturally interested parties an opportunity to stay and do research at the House for a maximum of three weeks with the goal of promoting lively discussions among the researchers.
Third, the Foundation has regularly staged contemporary art exhibits with regional and/or Nietzsche connections since the mid-1980s. Current art exhibit
These exhibits demonstrate that Nietzsche, more than any other philosopher, has always inspired artists to productively engage with his ideas and his person.
On Sunday, June 13, 2021, the Nietzsche House had opened an extensively redesigned presentation of Friedrich Nietzsche’s life and work. The new exhibition, curated by Matthias Buschle and Prof. Wolfram Groddeck, chronologically follows Nietzsche’s life, while also explaining key concepts of his philosophy.
Over the decades following the opening, a more international public has visited the museum, increasing the need for a multilingual presentation. In response, a modern exhibition design, incorporating a digital aspect, has been developed and implemented. This redesign integrates the spirit of the Nietzsche House with the need to provide up-to-date, easily understood information.
The exhibition rooms have been refurbished in a uniform design, with the same background of discreet turquoise as in the original Zarathustra books. The display cases are arranged chronologically based on Nietzsche’s life. Treasures, such as first editions and a small, regularly changing selection of valuable original manuscripts from the impressive Rosenthal-Levy collection, are on display. The individual objects are briefly described, with lengthier descriptions available in four languages in a brochure and on a mobile website. Panels throughout the house provide information about basic concepts and key ideas in Nietzsche’s thinking.