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Goethe Memorial

Goethe memorial in Jena
Goethe in Jena
To Jena university Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is closely linked for a period of over five decades. Summing up his individual stays since his first visit in 1775, one can discern a presence of more than five years in the city that becomes his second home.

As recent researches have shown, Goethe actively shapes the science policy as well as the appointment policies at "Salana". He builds up an intellectual infrastructure at the university and especially, he provides it with a new basis for the individual disciplines of natural science. He has a great share in making the university one of the leading in Germany and in it gaining European significance in the province of literature and philosophy around 1800.

The presence of Schiller and Goethe was a magnet to many other intellectuals establishing Jena as the center of numerous intellectual currents such as late Enlightenment, early Kantianism, Weimar Jena Classicism, early Romanticism, and early Idealism.
At the same time Goethe is strongly connected to Jena in his work as a poet and natural scientist. Here his friendship with Schiller originates in 1794, epoch-making in it being a living proof of free intellectual exchange and intense collaboration. The beginning of their friendship ‒ which Goethe memorializes in the text "Glückliches Ereignis" (1817) is characterized as well by their understanding of poetry as their pursuits to explore nature. Responding to Schillers letter (August 23, 1794), written five days before his birthday, Goethe expresses "you give the sum of my existence". "For a long time I have watched, although from some distance, the procedure of your mind, and ever with renewed wonder observed the track that you have marked out for yourself", Schiller writes.
"You seek for the necessary in nature; but you seek it by the most difficult route, which every weaker spirit will take care to avoid. You grasp in your view entire nature, in order to obtain light on her parts: the totality of her manifestations you search for the key to lay open the individual. From simple organization you ascend, step by step, to the more complex, in order at least to construct out of the materials of the whole fabric of nature the most complex of all - man. By thus creating him, as it were, after nature, you seek to penetrate to the mystery of his structure."
Not least in Jena Goethe, the naturalist (Naturforscher), develops the basic idea of morphology and attempts to give scientific and poetic shape and form to his theory of "formation and transformation" ("Bildung und Umbildung").

The term "morphology" appears for the first time in 1796 in his diary. Goethe notes:

"Morphology rests on the conviction that everything that is must also manifest and show itself. […] The inorganic, the vegetable, the animal, the human, all manifests itself, appears as what it is, to our outer and inner sense. Form is something mobile, that comes into being and passes away. The science of form is the science of transformation. The doctrine of metamorphosis is the key to all of Nature's signs."
The genus Goethea, a tropical plant named in honour of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
In 1798 Goethe's poem "The Metamorphosis of Plants" originates while he is in Jena. The field for Goethe's morphological experimentation in Jena can still be scrutinized today: in various collections the university holds that were formed by Goethe himself ‒ and in the Botanical Garden.

Goethe laid out the garden at the Fuerstengraben according to morphologically systematic criteria and in close cooperation with August Johann Georg Karl Bartsch (1761-1802) in 1794 and later with Franz Joseph Schelver (1778-1832) and Friedrich Siegmund Voigt (1781-1834). In his "retreat on the mountain of flowers and plants", in the midst of "marvelous vegetation" he felt especially at ease and drew plentiful inspiration from, as he registers in his letters in 1817. In that year the booklets "On Natural Science in General, especially on morphology" are published.

A small exhibition in the Inspector's house of the Botanical Garden, set up in Italian style and celebrating 50 years of Duke Carl August's reign, realizes Goethe's studies in Jena: Objects of his mineralogical-geological, his botanic, anatomic, zoologic and osteologic work as well as his work on Physics and Chemistry are presented. Guided by Goethe's poem "Epirrhema" (1818) the exhibition focuses on the relation between observing nature and poetry.
"You must, when contemplating nature,
Attend to this, in each and every feature:
There's nought outside and nought within,
For she is inside out and outside in."

Helmut Hühn

Goethe bust in the tradition of Christian Friedrich Tieck

Goethe Memorial

Friedrich Schiller University
Fürstengraben 26
07743 Jena

phone +49(0)3641 931 188 / 189
phone +49(0)3641 949 009


opening hours:

April, 1 ‒ October, 31

Wed ‒ Sun 11 am ‒ 3 pm

closed: November, 1 ‒ March, 31

entrance fee: 2, 50 Euro

(reduced rate: 1,30 Euro)

guided tours: up to 20 people

(about 30 min): 15, 00 Euro

events:  6, 00 €

(reduced rate: 3, 00 €)


Dr. Helmut Hühn
phone +49(0)3641 931 196

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