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Saturday, 2018-01-20

The History of the Hölderlin Museum

Neckar und Hölderlinturm

The beginnings of the Hölderlin Museum in the Tower are connected with the Eberhardt family. »Old Mrs. Eberhardt« had led visitors through the »rotunda« which had been rented to students even before the fire. When the house was restored, however, Fritz Eberhardt, the son, presented the lower tower room, which had been furnished with contemporary furniture, as »Hölderlin´s Room«. Upon his attempt to sell Hölderlin´s alleged furniture by putting an advertisement in the paper in 1915, the city rented the room which Eberhardt continued to administer as the »Memorial Room«.

In 1921/22, Fritz Eberhardt sold the house to the city while retaining the dwelling which he maintained there. The »Association for the Preservation of Hölderlin´s Tower« contributed greatly to the raising of the purchase price by calling for donations on a national level. In exchange for that, the »Association« took charge of the memorial room which remained essentially unchanged until Eberhardt´s death in 1944. After having served as emergency quarters during the most severe housing shortage, the entire ground floor was taken over in 1954 by the Hölderlin Society which had been newly founded after the war and which was the legal successor to the »Association«.

The Tower was used as its office as well as for a small exhibition. The lower tower room remained »Hölderlin´s Room« until 1978. Only then did it become possible to incorporate the true rotunda located in the first storey into an enlarged exhibition documented by Werner Volke in »Hölderlin in Tübingen«, an issue of the »Marbacher Magazin«.

Because these improvements did not yet compensate for the exhibition´s unfavourable conditions, the city and the Hölderlin Society decided to thoroughly renovate the house. This was done with the generous help of the Robert Bosch Foundation and the city of Tübingen in 1984. The alterations which had been made during the reconstruction of 1876 were corrected wherever appropriate. The stairs were repositioned, and visitors can again enter the rotunda just as in Hölderlin´s times. A reduction in size of the memorial room to its original dimensions was not carried out however, because its polygonal form could not have been restored anyway. The tower was thus to retain the appearance which it had when it became famous as »Hölderlin´s Tower«. The rotunda is now empty, except for two chairs which may have originally belonged to the house. Hölderlin´s last poems recall the man who spent 36 years of his life here.