The Francke Foundations in Halle, founded in 1698 as a poorhouse and orphanage by the Pietist theologian August Hermann Francke (1663-1727), gained respect and recognition throughout 18th-century Europe as an educational and social institution.
Today, the Francke Foundations are a modern cultural and educational cosmos located at a historical site registered on the German nomination list of UNESCO World Heritage Site candidates. The museum treasures, library resources, archives, and numerous educational facilities of the Francke Foundations, along with the over 40 partners located on the grounds, combine to form a unique center of cultural, educational, scholarly, social and Christian activities. The Francke Foundations organize and host an extensive program of events, including exhibitions, lecture series, scientific and scholarly conferences, concerts and festivals as well as projects for both children and families.
August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) initiated the development of his social and educational reforms from his private residence. The Francke House was the starting point of his far-reaching and comprehensive activities, traces of which can still be found in the society, religion and culture of today. In 2008, after extensive renovation and restoration, the Francke House was reopened to the public. The Info Center is located on the ground floor of the house. The Orphanage Bookshop will also be located in the Francke House for the period of time that the historic terraced houses on Franckeplatz are being renovated (probably until the end of 2011). The former living quarters of the Francke Family, the Francke Cabinet, houses an unusual exhibition that offers insight into the life and many talents of the foundation's founder. Whether theologian or educator, global player or visionary, economic expert or house builder – the talents and energy of August Hermann Francke are presented in nine individual films by prominent personalities of today's society.
The Orphanage Cabinet on the ground floor of the Historical Orphanage provides visitors with an overview of the history of the Francke Foundations from 1698 to the present by means of text panels, selected objects, books, a model and video. Throughout the entire year, the Francke Foundations present a variety of art and cultural history exhibitions on the exhibition floor of the Historical Orphanage. The annual thematic exhibition opens each spring. The Cabinet of Artifacts and Curiosities in the Historical Orphanage, originally created for educational purposes, is considered the oldest museum space in Germany. Recreated following its original museum concept from the 18th century, it is now once again situated at its historical location in the mansard of the Historical Orphanage. The 18 Baroque display cabinets contain a unique and impressive collection of over 3,000 natural objects and products, curiosities and other artifacts. In the foyer of the Cabinet of Artifacts and Curiosities, the Francke Foundations regularly invite artists to engage and interact with the Cabinet of Artifacts and Curiosities; the resulting reflections provide a bridge from the Baroque cabinet of curiosities to the present.
The Children's Creativity Center, the "Krokoseum", has been housed in the semi-basement storey of the Historical Orphanage for the past ten years. On over 300 square meters of floor space, children are offered a variety of cultural, educational and museum-based activities. The exciting range of events is aimed at children up to the age of 12 and their parents, siblings and friends, as well as at kindergarten and school classes and after-school groups. Aside from a broad spectrum of cultural, museum-based, art and educational activities, the program of the Krokoseum also includes school and family events as well as holiday programs, theme-based project work, and exhibition activities.
The Historical Library of the Francke Foundations was founded at the end of the 17th century. The library structure, built from 1726-1728, is considered the oldest surviving secular library building of Germany. Approximately 35,000 works from the 16th to 19th century are found within the Baroque stacks of the library. Treasures from the holdings of the Historical Library are regularly exhibited in small display cabinets.
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