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Research Projects of the University of Cologne‘s Faculty of Arts and Humanities 2017/2018

Research and Knowledge Transfer

Collage: Deborah Schiffer, Image wikimedia commons, Fotolia (Dom r.), Creative Commons

Wallraf – Wallraf digital – Wallrafs Köln

Prof. Dr. Gudrun Gersmann | Chair of Early Modern History

Funding provided by the Landschaftsverband Rheinland (LVR)

One of the focuses of the Cologne chair of Early Modern History is the “later early modern period” around 1800. An academic interest in a prominent Cologne persona of this transition period who has remained present in Cologne to this day is therefore of no surprise. However, what do we know in fact about the famous collector, former rector of the local university and civic reformer Ferdinand Franz Wallraf (1748 – 1824) who bequeathed his various collections to the city of Cologne in 1818?
This was the intitial question and key aspect of an interdisciplinary course funded by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities (supervision: Prof. Dr. Gudrun Gersmann, History / Prof. Dr. Stefan Grohé, History of Art, WS 2014/15). The aim of the course was to set up a first digital inventory about Wallraf together with the students. Five promising master theses and two doctoral projects have resulted from the project so far.
In cooperation with diverse civic institutions such as the Historisches Archiv der Stadt Köln (Historical Archive of the City of Cologne), Rheinisches Bildarchiv (Rhenish Photographic Archive), Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Kölner Stadtmuseum (the City of Cologne Museum), the MAKK (Museum of Applied Arts), Romano-Germanic Museum Cologne, and the University and City Library of Cologne and thanks to funding from the LVR we have been able to develop the initial idea into the concept of “Wallraf digital”.
“Wallraf digital” amalgamates possibilities for broader digital knowledge transfer in an exemplary manner and currently comprises the following:

•     the academic online publication Wallraf (
•     a blog (,
•     an app ( and
       videos (

Furthermore, two exhibition projects resulted from  these activities, which can be seen from the end of 2017 until summer 2018 at the Historisches Archiv der Stadt Köln (Historical Archive of the City of Cologne) and at the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum. In addition, two junior research associates at the Chair of Early Modern History (E. Schläwe / S. Schlinkheider) will be publishing further findings about Wallraf’s testament on the platform, funded by the UoC in the framework of its institutional strategy.

Wallraf in the future: Due to the high research potential and the richness of sources for this subject-matter, we are consistently going to explore new perspectives in this field in the next phase. Under the title “Wallrafs Köln”, junior researcher teams are going to further develop findings thus far yielded (supervision: Prof Dr G. Gersmann) and raise new research questions.

Text: Christine Schmit


Chair of Early Modern History
Prof. Dr. Gudrun Gersmann


E-mail fruehe-neuzeit(at)