Anna Amalia Library Fire – Weimar (Germany)

The building of the Anna Amalia Library in Weimar after del 2004 fire – Michak, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The historic Anna Amalia library in Weimar, Germany, was ravaged by a fire in September 2004 that caused more than 60 million euros of damage and destroyed about 10 percent of the library’s prestigious collection of books and artwork. The library was being renovated at the time, and investigators believe that equipment being used to test the building’s structural integrity apparently overloaded a 1940s copper wire that ran through the library’s edifice.

Anna Amalia Library (World Heritage site) reopened  three years after the blaze that destroyed some 50,000 historical books. The fire, that was ignited by an electrical fault, severely damaged the 16th-century palace that houses the library.

Among the volumes destroyed were a collection of 18th-century musical works donated by Duchess Anna Amalia and a renowned book collection gathered by the first librarian, Daniel Schurzfleisch, who brought them to the library on 35 horse-drawn carts in 1722. The restoration of all 62,000 books damaged in the fire would not be complete until 2015.

The 12.8 million euros restoration of the palace building was finished few days before the opening and it includes many modern additions (a sprinkler system hidden so as not to disturb efforts to return the building to its original appearance).

The total estimated cost of books destroyed or damaged is 67 million euros. The books were part of a collection of some 1 million volumes belonging to the library, held at several places in Weimar.

The state of Thuringia and the federal government paid for most of the restoration work to the building, nearly  21 million euros in donations from Germany and around the world has been put toward the restoration of the books.

The library was added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage List in 1998 .

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