Re-inscribing the Warburg Institute

Elective, Spring 2021
Tim Anstey and Mari Lending

Collaborating with Blaker gamle Meieri outside Oslo, the Warburg Institute in London, the Warburg-Haus in Hamburg and the Bard Graduate Centre in New York, OCCAS is developing a travelling exhibition on the architecture of the Warburg Institute. The first exhibition opens at Blaker May 1, 2021.


When the Warburg Institute was transferred from Hamburg to London in 1933 its scholars had been involved in two major architectural commissions within 10 years, one a purpose designed building to house Aby Warburg’s remarkable library, the Kulturwissenschaftliche Bibliothek Warburg, the second a radical proposition to establish a Planetarium for Hamburg in a monumental, disused water tower. In London this pattern of commissioning continued, as the Warburg Institute, the library attached to it, and its directors, moved through a succession of homes in the years before and after World War 2. These projects included designs by the avant-garde architectural group Tecton during the 1930s, highly popular exhibitions that toured during the 1940s, and would culminate in the construction of a new building at Woburn Square during the 1950s.


Re-inscribing the Warburg Institute focusses on the importance of architecture to the Warburg Institute’s study of culture, and on the larger question of how architectural organisation and systems of knowledge interrelate. Based on six architectural models built by the students, and curating artefacts from venues in London and Hamburg, the exhibition will show how the Warburg scholars projected a tie between architectural space and intellectual order in their system of analysis and in the buildings they inhabited.


The exhibition is developed as part of the OCCAS research-teaching series “Collecting Architecture”, which gives Masters students the chance to work on live research projects. The project is initiated by Tim Anstey in collaboration with Mari Lending.


Originally posted Mar 21, 2021.

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