The Museum Next Door: Living with Art in Nineteenth Century Prussia

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Can public art museums transform society? Those who answer yes have often drawn on an early nineteenth century German aesthetic tradition which identified art as a source of personal and collective liberation in an age of revolutionary conflict. Drawing on Goff’s forthcoming book, The God Behind the Marble (University of Chicago Press, 2023), this talk charts the material struggles that accompanied the philosophical faith in art’s transformative powers in a time of looting, secularization, and war. It argues that these struggles– between philosophers and administrators; artists and servants; publics and objects– have had enduring consequences for the public museum of art in both contemporary life and in historical scholarship. 

Alice Goff is an Assistant Professor of German History and the College at the University of Chicago where her work focuses on the history of culture and ideas in nineteenth and twentieth century Germany. Her first book, The God Behind the Marble: The Fate of Art in the German Aesthetic State will be published in January 2024 from the University of Chicago Press.

If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/CART captioning, alternative media formats, etc.) or information about campus mobility access features in order to fully participate in this event, please contact Ray Savord at or (510) 642-4555 with as much advance notice as possible and at least 7-10 days before the event.

Speaker: Alice Goff, Assistant Professor of German History and the College, University of Chicago

Ray Savord,, 510-642-4555