Archive of Faces Archive of Faces
Archive of Faces
© Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Kassel, Bildarchiv
Museum für Sepulkralkultur, Kassel, Bildarchiv


5. March 2000 – 21. May 2000

Death and Life Masks

from the Schiller National Museum Marbach and the Museum of Hessian History

Following the stations Moyland and Marbach, the Museum of Sepulchral Culture is showing the exhibition Archive of Faces Death and Life Masks from the collection of the Schiller National Museum in Marbach, one of the most important of its kind in Germany.

The exhibition is supplemented by masks of Kassel personalities from the city’s State Museum, collections of arts and crafts and sculpture in the Museum of Hessian History. The core of the small collection of death masks in the arts and crafts and sculpture collections can be traced back to the Landgraves of Hessen-Kassel’s Kunstkammer collections and was enriched by a few individual pieces in the 19th century.

From Henry IV, King of France (died 1610) to Heiner Müller (died 1955), more than 130 masks in this exhibition document the "last and eternal face" of politicians, scholars, artists, actors and, above all, poets.

The death mask is an impression of the human face made immediately after death and, as long as it has not been edited afterwards, may be seen as a concrete reproduction of the face on the threshold between life and death. The facial forms of the deceased were taken as a negative form ("stencil"), usually made of plaster, which then served as a casting mold for the masks made of wax, plaster or, more rarely, of cast stone, plastic or terracotta. Occasionally, as can also be seen in this exhibition, death masks were presented with single or multi-colored frames, transparent coatings or sheets. The tradition of death masks is known and practiced in many cultures.


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Arbeitsgemeinschaft Friedhof und Denkmal e.V.

Zentralinstitut für Sepulkralkultur

Museum für Sepulkralkultur

Weinbergstraße 25–27
D-34117 Kassel | Germany
Tel. +49 (0)561 918 93-0

Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien
Hessisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kunst
Kassel Documenta Stadt
Deutsche Bischofskonferenz