Opening of the new School of Seeing building as a showcase for university collections and other humanities projects

Friends of Mainz University invested EUR 300,000 in the establishment of a multi-functional pavilion facility


The objective is to create a forum for creative academic communication at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). In commemoration of their 60th anniversary, the Association of the Friends of Mainz University invested a total of EUR 300,000 to provide the basis for the newly established School of Seeing just outdoors the Philosophicum building on the university campus. "The School of Seeing gives the humanities at Mainz University a new multi-functional presentation platform for raising awareness of the overall societal importance of the humanities in modern media discourse", said Ferdinand Scherf, deputy chairperson of the Association of the Friends of Mainz University. The School of Seeing is also a building with symbolic power: Our fundamental aim, i.e., to maintain and nurture the ties between the university, the City of Mainz, and the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, has thus been made tangible and suitable for the long term in the form of this powerful architectural design."

With the launch of the School of Seeing at Mainz University, the campus is gaining an intercultural, intermedial space for observation and experimentation that will combine the needs of students with regard to practical training with those of schoolchildren and citizens when it comes to participating in the learning process in the humanities. The multi-functional pavilion facility is intended to serve as an academic hub, providing an attractive venue for projects with schoolchildren, special exhibitions and readings, theater and music productions as well as for continuing teacher education, public lectures, academic congresses, and other events of interest to the public.

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz sees the task of making academic topics comprehensible to the general public but at a suitably high level of discourse as one of its core missions. Above and beyond its ambitious program of public events, the university already maintains two highly effective outreach programs — the Green School in its Botanic Garden and the NaTLab for school children — that are designed to promote intellectual exchange between the university, the schools of the region, and the citizens of the City of Mainz and the entire Rhine-Main area.

"The School of Seeing thus perfectly harmonizes with our 'open university' concept," noted Professor Georg Krausch, President of Mainz University. "We are taking knowledge from across all disciplines, ranging from the natural sciences to the humanities, and making it accessible to children, young people, and adults in a lively, creative manner. This kind of institutionalized channel for conveying academic information is a hallmark of our university and it is unique within Germany."

The School of Seeing at Mainz University is intended to become a place of communal learning, one that conveys historical experience as well as critical analysis of visual materials. It will employ digital media to train visitors' eyes to critical understanding of three-dimensional objects of art — from large-scale casts of famous statues and cuneiform tablets to rare books — thus making cultural-historical knowledge more tangible. In this way, the School of Seeing will help guests large and small extend their skills in one of the core competencies of our modern world, a media world that is strongly shaped by the visual.