Museum of Modern Literature

The Museum of Modern Literature is located in Germany and was designed by London based architect David Chipperfield, of David Chipperfield Architects. The museum is set in Marbach’s scenic park overlooking the valley of the Neckar River. Neighbors to Chipperfield’s museum are the National Schiller Museum and the Archive for German Literature. The museum displays artifacts of 20th century literature, including original manuscripts of Franz Kafka’s The Trial. Completed in 2006, the museum won the prestigious RIBA Stirling Prize in 2007.

The museum’s façade is dominated by limestone columns which create a dramatic portico surrounding the building. The interior galleries are dimly lit with artificial light so as not to destroy the delicate manuscripts. To contrast the necessary lighting conditions of the galleries, Chipperfield allows the circulation hallways to flood with sunlight from the tall glass windows which constitute the exterior walls.

The evenly spaced columns and consequential portico call to mind the cerebral architecture of sacred temples. Chipperfield’s museum is very much a temple, a shrine to the literary works it contains and to literature in general. The simple, rational design of this museum allows it to be as expressive and communicative as the books it contains.