The next summer school is scheduled to take place from 18 to 29 July 2022 at the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel:

What is the value of things? The economics of collecting
International Summer School, Marbach Weimar Wolfenbüttel Research Association (MWW)

Amassing, storing and – on occasion – disposing of things are basic structural aspects of any collection. A collection is thus the result of a chain of decisions that are always related to an evaluation of the things collected. In short, assigning value is a key category for conducting research on and with collections.

On this basis, the summer school will be exploring the question, What is the value of things? We want to start off by discussing the plurality of concepts of value. What kinds of values underpin the creation of a collection, and what are these values based on? What value dynamics are objects subject to?

Next, we will specifically examine the relationship between collections as a whole and individual items in them. What is involved in the transformation from ‘thing’ to object in a collection? Is a collection more than the sum of the objects contained in it? What types of value are attributed to collections, and what new values do collections produce? How should the idea of ‘de-collecting’ be categorised here?

Thirdly, we will be directing our attention to the collectors and find out more about the situations in which they become economic actors. From the purchase of a collection through to its storage, exhibition and dissolution – what economic practices underpin collections and collecting? How do collections generate value?


Finally, we also want to turn to the collecting and research institutions and examine their pivotal role in evaluating things. To what extent do museums, libraries and archives use their perceived authority to function as ‘valorisation agencies’ for the material? What is the relationship between scholarly interest in the treatment of objects and external indicators of their value? What role does the wider public play here?


One particular focus of the MWW is on the digital methods used in researching collections. Questions about the transformations triggered by digitisation are therefore of particular interest. During the summer school, specific digital methods will also play a role: how can we get to the bottom of the economics of collecting, and how can digital strategies help?

This interdisciplinary summer school combines seminars, lectures and excursions with the opportunity for independent research.

Prof. Hans Peter Hahn (Goethe Universität Frankfurt)
Dr Joëlle Weis (Universität Trier)

Dr Annette Cremer (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen)
Dr Doreen Mölders (LWL Archaeological Museum, Herne)
Dr Dennis Niewerth (German Maritime Museum, DSM, Bremerhaven)
Prof. Markus Walz (Leipzig University of Applied Sciences, HTWK)

The summer school is organised within the framework of the MWW, which was founded in 2013 ( It is financed by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF).


The summer school will follow all official directives on hygiene and rules for safe distancing with respect to current Covid-19 measures. Should the situation deteriorate, an alternative format will be offered instead.


The summer school offers up to 15 spots for young researchers from around the world who submit a letter of motivation outlining their academic interest in the thematic focus of the summer school. The scheme is primarily geared to doctoral students in the humanities and cultural studies as well as all collection-related courses of study. In exceptional cases, advanced master’s students will also be considered.

The application should include:
1. Letter of motivation (setting out the candidate’s academic interest in the theme of the summer school, max. 2 pages)
2. Curriculum vitae
3. Brief outline of the applicant’s dissertation project (max. 5 pages)
4. Copy of degree certificates and transcripts
5. Letter of recommendation from the candidate’s home university

Application deadline

The application deadline is 31 March 2022.
Notifications will be sent out by the end of April 2022. International participants will receive an invitation that can be submitted when applying for a visa.

Applicants have no legal entitlement to participate in the summer school.

Applications should be submitted by email to ed.ba1660920807h@gnu1660920807hcsro1660920807f1660920807 (Dr Volker Bauer / Uta Rohrig).



The working language is German but knowledge of English is also required. The most important reading will be provided in advance. The afternoons are reserved for independent research, which will be presented by the participants at the end of the summer school.

Accommodation / Travel costs

Accommodation in Wolfenbüttel is free of charge for participants. An allowance for daily provisions will be granted.
Travel expenses will be reimbursed according to standard DAAD rates.

Participation fee

A participation fee of €200 will be charged. Exemptions from this fee may be granted in exceptional cases and upon submission of an informal application.


Martin Wiegand
Herzog August Bibliothek / MWW Research Association

Postfach 13 64

D-38299 Wolfenbüttel