In around 1700, August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) found 4 thalers and 16 groschen in the alms box in his vicarage. With this capital he went on to found a “school town”, which within a few decades evolved into one of the most important Protestant educational institutions in Europe and in which fundamental ideas of the Reformation were implemented. For the very first time, a differentiated school system was designed to support children regardless of their social status while creating the requirements for a responsible and self-determined life in the service of society. Francke’s schools became not only the cradle of the Prussian canon of virtues but also a model for the Prussian school system. As early as the eighteenth century, the flourishing “school town” held valuable educational collections, including an important library, school gardens, and a cabinet of artefacts and natural curiosities.
Welcoming Visitors at Francke’s Home
|The ground floor of the building in which August Hermann Francke lived with his family now houses the Francke Foundations’ Information Centre, the central point where visitors are received, together with the the Museum Ticket Office and Shop. Visitors to the Foundations can choose from an extensive programme of guided tours. Besides tours which take place regularly and tours which can be booked in advance, we recommend our audioguide for touring the grounds. Our Information Centre is pleased to advise you on all aspects of your visit.|
Exhibitions in the Historic Orphanage
|The Historic Orphanage dominates Francke Square (Franckeplatz) like a castle. As a “palace for the child of the common man” it is a visible testimony to the start of a new era and impressively documents Francke’s commitment to social reform. At present the Orphanage is the cultural centre in the educational cosmos that the Francke Foundations represent today. Visitors can view permanent exhibitions introducing the Foundations and temporary exhibitions on the cultural history of the early modern period.|
Cabinet of Artefacts and Natural Curiosities
In the only fully preserved Cabinet of Curiosities dating from the Baroque age in Europe the visitor can experience an original, eighteenth-century museum concept. Located in the former dormitory for orphan boys in the Historic Orphanage, the cabinet of artefacts and natural curiosities was created for lessons in the natural sciences in 1698. Today the approximately 3,000 natural history specimens, curiosities and artefacts reveal the world from a forgotten perspective, forming a comprehensive cosmos of Baroque-era knowledge. They are arranged in the original, richly decorated cabinets which,were especially created for this room by Gottfried August Gründler (1710-1775), an engraver from Altenburg in nearby Thuringia between 1736 and 1741.
“Changing People to Change the World”: The History of the Francke Foundations
The permanent exhibition on the history of the Foundations has been completely renewed and is now presented under the title “Changing people to change the world”. A large multi-media installation invites the visitor to reconstruct virtually the emergence and spread of the Foundations and the functions of the various buildings through the ages. Unusual objects lead the visitor through the history of the founding and the impact of August Hermann Francke’s “school town” up to the recent present.
“The Power of the Word”: The Cultural and Historical Impact of Pietism
The impressive pulpit from St. Ulrich’s Church in Halle marks the centre of this exhibition. After serving initially as a minister at St. George’s Church in the suburb of Glaucha from 1692 on, Francke became pastor at St. Ulrich’s in 1715. The Renaissance pulpit, built in 1588, is one of the finest and most elaborate in the region. With the secularisation of the church during the 1970s this jewel of sacred art was forgotten. It underwent intensive restoration for the permanent exhibition in the Francke Foundations. This was made possible by the generous support of the East-German Sparkassenstiftung.
Historic Library in the Linden Courtyard
Francke founded the library of the Francke Foundations as a public institution at the end of the seventeenth century. Several years later its collection of books in the field of education was already comparable to that of major German university libraries. Its old holdings currently number approximately 50,000 books covering all fields of knowledge of the early modern period. The books were housed in a separate building especially constructed for this purpose in 1728. The original shelving, arranged as a flight of freestanding bookcases lining a central aisle like the sets of a stage – hence the name Kulissenbibliothek (Scenery Library) - has been fully preserved. After restoration during the late 1990s, the library once again looks as impressive as it did in 1746, when attractive arched supporting walls were installed to add additional support for the weight of the collections of books.
Francke Cabinet in August Hermann Francke’s Home
|On the first floor of August Hermann Francke’s former home (House 28) a permanent exhibition presents Francke’s many talents and abilities. In nine short films prominent public figures, such as Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Paul Raabe and Ulrich Wickert, convey Francke´s extraordinary and dynamic vision and energy to the modern visitor, sharing their own fascination with his work. Francke comes to life as theologian and educator, economic genius and builder, as global player and visionary.
The City of Halle and the Francke Foundations - The Exhibition in the Francke Cabinet
Brewery and Bakery
The small exhibition in the building where the brewery and bakery used to be addresses daily life in the Francke Foundations and the provision of food for the approximately 2,000 people living and working there during the eighteenth century. Rediscovered historical details, such as a tunnel connecting the food provision tracts of various buildings, historic water channels in the floor of the vaulted cellar and the original eighteenth-century stone baking oven now bear eloquent witness to the functions of the building and the organisation of catering for the provision of the inhabitants of the “school town”. During large cultural events the oven is today again used to bake bread. In addition, the building further houses an attractive cellar with vaulted ceilings suitable for smaller cultural events.