“Wanderland.” A journey through the history of rambling

29 November 2018 – 28 April 2019


Rambling is walking on a large scale and with a closeness to nature and – although also a common form of travel in the past – a leisure activity. The rambler appropriates the natural space by covering its distances, and has a view of the region or into the distance – perhaps from on high.

Rambling is an exceedingly popular leisure activity in Germany. This poses the initial question of why, here of all places, it clearly has a social relevance. Is rambling typically German? Could it even be a German stereotype? One or two German politicians have certainly liked to be shown out on a ramble. But when did rambling begin, and how has this cultural practice developed?

Rambling was popularised by the Romantics and since the late 18th century it has gradually become a leisure pursuit. In the 19th century, it became part of bourgeois life, and towards the end of the century it has already become a real mass movement.

As its popularity increased, the infrastructure grew: precise and detailed walking maps, well signposted and paved footpaths, viewing platforms to guide the eye and ideally situated stop-off points and overnight accommodation. Over time, the clothing also became more functional, the materials becoming more lightweight to increase comfort. Specialist journals and rambling literature heighten the anticipation of the impending tour, while on the internet, bloggers share their rambling experiences directly with their communities of fans. Rambling is valued as a shared experience, it promotes health, offers a moment of self-assurance and diversion – and is, of course, a constantly growing economic factor.

The exhibition provides an overview of around 200 years of the cultural history of rambling and illustrates the transformation this popular leisure activity has undergone over the years.


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