Adventure space GRIMM WORLD

25 areas – much more to discover, and a few tips for those in a hurry

The GRIMM WORLD is designed to connect factual themes with emotions, so that a complex picture of the Brothers Grimm is developed as one goes round. The tour does not start with the fairy tales, but rather at the core of the Grimms’ self-understanding in linguistic and cultural research, before it leads to witches, dwarfs and wolves. The letters of the alphabet show the way, and words from the Grimms’ "German Dictionary" form the headlines, but take care: the tour does not begin with A and continue with B and C. The versatile aspects of the Grimms’ works provided the inspiration for a knowledge landscape full of surprises and discoveries.

The alphabet leads through the world of the Brothers Grimm

It starts with Z for ZETTEL (slips of paper), and the path leads via ORGANISIERUNG (organising) to the Grimms’ network and how they approached their work. Soon one arrives at the letter B for BUCH (book), where we find their complete works and, as a particular highlight, their personal copies of the “Children's and Household Tales” (which have been part of the UNESCO Memory of the World register since 2005).

F for FROTEUFEL (demon) and S for SPRACHSCHATZ (wealth of words) invite you to get to know the dictionary, where ÄRSCHLEIN (little arse) and WORTARBEIT (work on words) help to convey their linguistic activities in a playful and approachable way. After that, it starts to get “fabulous”. When the path leads into the DORNENHECKE (hedge of thorns), one can encounter KLEINWESEN (little creatures) and UNDINGEN (monstrous things). At ERZÄHLENHÖREN (hear tell) and ILLUMINIEREN (illuminate) you can hear and see what the world of fairy tales, miracles and imagination has to offer. Finally, the LEBENSLÄUFER (autobiographer) leads one along biographical paths to N for the Grimms’ NACHLASS (legacy) and to CASSEL (nowadays Kassel) and another surprise: the third “Brother Grimm”, the painter Ludwig Emil Grimm.


Depending on how much time and curiosity you have, in the GRIMM WORLD it is possible to immerse yourself completely in the complex knowledge and exciting experiences surrounding the Brothers Grimm.

Here are 10 stations which you should on no account miss:

The world of language and words

  • FROTEUFEL [DEMON], © GRIMMWELT, Photo: Andreas Berthel



BUCH (book): Since 2005 the personal working copies of the first edition of the Children's and Household Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm have been part of the UNESCO World Documentary Heritage. They are to be found in the "Memory of the World" register alongside many other works of historical significance, including James Cook's Logbooks, the Golden Bull, the Bayeux Tapestry, the Diary of Anne Frank and the Magna Carta. What makes these books so important? They contain the handwritten notes and comments by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm on the first edition of the Children's and Household Tales of 1812 (first volume) and 1815 (second volume). With their help one can follow the way the texts were altered by the brilliant fairy tale collectors.

SPRACHSCHATZ (wealth of words): The German dictionary, which the Grimm brothers initiated, contains over 320,000 entries. During their lifetime they managed to reach the letter F. Others continued their work and completed it. The artist Ecke Bonk has addressed the monumentality and variety of this work in a creative fashion. His installation "Random Reading / Book of Words" already fascinated many visitors at the documenta XI in 2002. It consists of three parts: in a projection, an endless list shows all the entries of the German dictionary in alphabetical order, and a number indicates the position of the respective term within the huge conglomerate of words. Equally impressive is the collection of framed title pages of supplements to the German dictionary in chronological order. They fill whole walls, thus giving an impression of the rich content of this comprehensive work. Finally, a three-screen projection shows complete dictionary entries in a random sequence, giving an opportunity to enter profoundly into the work itself and to lose oneself in the world of words.

FROTEUFEL (demon): The last entry for the German dictionary that Jacob Grimm completed before his death in 1863 was "FROTEUFEL" (demon). Wilhelm had already died four years earlier. It was to take another 100 years for the "German Dictionary" to be "complete" (at which time the revision was started). The artist Alexej Tchernyi has illustrated the history of the "German dictionary" in 14 three-dimensional dioramas made entirely from intricately formed paper with effective back lighting.

WORTARBEIT (work on words): Language changes. It is never static, it continues to develop to this day. The Grimm brothers traced these changes. They were not just interested in the single word on its own, but also in its combinations and associations. Here is an interactive installation which allows words to be connected with one another by association. A word structure is created by the combined efforts of all who enter their words here.

The world of imagination and pictures



  • HOLZWURZEL [WOODEN ROOT], © GRIMMWELT, Photo: Nikolaus Frank

HOLZWURZEL (wooden roots): Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm also called their work "root research". The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who is closely linked to Kassel as a documenta artist and holder of the Kassel citizens' prize "Glas der Vernunft" (Glass of Reason), sprayed five wooden roots from Southern China with car paint for his sculpture "Colored Roots", relating to manifold associations with the Brothers Grimm, from “root research” to fairy-tale forests, as visitors may think. The work of art was specially created to be exhibited in the GRIMM WORLD Kassel.

ERZÄHLENHÖREN (hear tell): Most people know the fairy tale "Rumpelstiltskin". A small, mean and lonely imp helps the king's daughter out of her plight by spinning gold from straw, but demands her first-born child. Rescue is only possible if the royal daughter can find out his name, Rumpelstiltskin. Fairy tales are usually told orally: parents tell the stories to their children, grandparents to their grandchildren. This is the case all over the world. But how does such a fairy tale sound in Russian, Italian, Finnish, Japanese, Chinese or Arabic? The film artist Hannah Leonie Prinzler lets us know. An installation shows people telling the story in 22 languages, in sign language and five German dialects.

DORNENHECKE (hedge of thorns): Everyone knows that the prince had to fight his way through thorns in order to reach Sleeping Beauty. But this hedge here conceals lots of guests from other fairy tales: a talking mirror that knows who is the fairest in the land, a hopping frog prince, and some astonished dwarfs who greet the visitors; there are exciting surprises and encounters in the witch’s gingerbread house and in the cottage where Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother lives. It will be best if you go on a journey of discovery through the DORNENHECKE.

The world of the Brothers Grimm


  • Nachlasz [LEGACY], © GRIMMWELT, Photo: Andreas Fischer

  • QUITTE [QUINCE], © GRIMMWELT, Photo: Nikolaus Frank

LEBENSLÄUFER (autobiographer): Here the life story of the Brothers Grimm is presented. Letters, documents, drawings, photographs, paintings and even the handwritten autobiographies of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are on show. Did you know that the two fairy tale collectors also belonged to the famous »Göttingen Seven« - professors, who protested against the alteration of the constitution in the Kingdom of Hanover - or that Jacob Grimm was a member of the national parliamentary assembly in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt in 1848? When following the life stories of the Brothers Grimm, you can find a lot of exciting facts.

NACHLASS (legacy): Although they often moved house, numerous objects from the life of the Brothers Grimm have been preserved. As notorious collectors, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm already archived and described some objects during their lifetime. Together with items from their personal possessions and household, some of these things remained in the family after their death. Today, numerous important mementoes have found a place in archives and museums, where they are preserved and researched.

CASSEL: In Cassel (today Kassel) Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm lived and worked with interruptions for about thirty years. But there is something else to discover here - or rather somebody: Ludwig Emil Grimm was a younger brother of Jacob and Wilhelm and gained a reputation in his own right for his paintings and drawings, even as a forerunner of the comic strip. His illustrations for the early editions of the fairy tales are nowadays regarded as having contributed significantly to the success of the collection.