4th October 2021

Jan Tschichold revisited – the digital layer: International conference concluding the DFG projekt “Digitising Jan Tschichold’s estate”

The German National Library’s German Museum of Books and Writing will be holding an international symposium on 15 and 16 September 2021 marking the completion of the digitisation project focusing on the world-renowned typographer and book designer Jan Tschichold; this project was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Titled “Digital material. Digitized collections in cultural heritage institutions”, the conference uses Jan Tschichold’s legacy of work as an example to engage with the analysis and visualisation of digital collections and address questions relating to the curation of digital objects. The conference will follow a hybrid format, taking place live at the German National Library in Leipzig and streaming simultaneously in the internet. Registration for the livestream is free of charge.

The German Museum of Books and Writing is one of many institutions in Europe and overseas which hold parts of Jan Tschichold’s material estate – especially in his places of work in Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The first day of the conference will see institutions from these three countries come together for the first time and jointly examine Tschichold’s life’s work.

The second day, on 16 September 2021, will bring together experts in the digital humanities (DH, humanities and social studies) from Europe and the USA. They will seek answers to pressing questions on the digitisation of cultural heritage: How does one successfully transform the material into the digital? What opportunities do DH tools offer for visualising, curating and analysing digital collections? What possibilities does machine-based learning open up for image-based collections?

The cooperative project masterminded by the University of Erfurt and the German National Library will make the estate of typographer Jan Tschichold, which was donated to the museum in 2015, freely accessible worldwide via the internet. The German Museum of Books and Writing commemorated Bauhaus centenary year 2019 by staging an extensive exhibition titled “Jan Tschichold – a once-in-a-century typographer?” Tschichold was one of the most influential book and font designers of the 20th century. He was active in the Bauhaus enviroment and had a lasting influence on typography after World War II. Of all the collections held by the German Museum of Books and Writing, the Tschichold collection is one of the most in demand for international research. Facilitating worldwide digital access to the material is therefore also a win in terms of preservation, since some of the pages are very fragile.

The digitisation project encompasses more than two thousand works recorded in approximately 23,000 scans which can be legally published in the internet. The works and their metadata can be researched via the catalogue of the German National Library and will also be available via the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (German Digital Library) and Europeana in the future. The set can be downloaded free of charge in DNBLab under licence CC-BY-SA 4.0. DNBLab also provides access to the metadata, which has been enriched with the vocabulary used by the Integrated Authority File (GND). This means that Tschichold’s individual designs and book projects can now be searched by client, publisher and subject heading for the first time.

International conference

„Digital Material. Digitized collections in cultural heritage institutions. Conference on the curating and analyzing of digitized collections using the example of Jan Tschicholds Estate.“
15 and 16 September 2021, on site and virtually

The programme

Conference Day 1: Jan Tschichold’s Legacy in European Cultural Heritage Institutions

2. Konferenztag: Digitized Collections in Cultural Heritage Institutions – Methods of Curating and Analyzing

Registration for the stream: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4773719264574615823

To the digital copies

Jan Tschichold – A once-in-a-century typographer

Exhibition from 2019
Exhibtion catalogue


The book has shaped our culture and civilisation like no other medium. For centuries our knowledge about the world and its peoples has been stored in books. The task of the German National Library’s German Museum of Books and Writing is to collect, exhibit and process evidence of book and media history. Founded in 1884 in Leipzig as the Deutsches Buchgewerbemuseum (German Book Trade Museum), it is the oldest museum in the world in the field of book culture, and also one of the most important with regard to the scope and quality of its holdings.
Alongside manuscripts, historical prints, coloured papers and modern book art, its collections contain archive materials and estates on the history of writing and typography. Together with the world’s largest watermark collection and a host of writing implements and machines for producing books and paper, the museum’s collections facilitate an interdisciplinary approach to issues in cultural and media studies.


Dr. Stephanie Jacobs

Phone +49 341 2271-575