History, backgrounds, highlights – Bavaria’s cultural portal bavarikon presents a virtual exhibition on the Oktoberfest

With its new virtual exhibition "Oktoberfest – History, backgrounds, highlights", bavarikon gets all fans of the "Wiesn" and everybody interested in culture and history in the mood for the 187th Munich Oktoberfest . The Internet portal of the Free State of Bavaria presents over 200 exhibits from twelve Bavarian cultural institutions, thus offering a unique digital stroll across the world’s largest fun fair – online at

Exhibition poster | © BSB/bavarikon

Exhibition poster | © BSB/bavarikon

From a horse race to a highly sought-after export good: in the virtual exhibition, bavarikon brings the more than 200 years’ history of the Wiesn to life and shows the development from the originally nationally-monarchically influenced celebrations of the 19th century to today’s world-famous "mega event". Highlights from various decades illustrate the continuous changes which the Oktoberfest has undergone, while still remaining a Bavarian and Munich-centred fair. Also its downside is examined, such as the Oktoberfest bombing in 1980.

Beer, roast chicken and fish grilled on a stick are indispensable at the Wiesn. Therefore, the (historical) offer of food and beverages at the Oktoberfest is likewise a topic of the virtual exhibition, along with the festival tents and their proprietors. A further chapter of the exhibition lets visitors delve into the world of showmanship and learn more about the beginnings of this trade and the roots of the oldest attractions on the Theresienwiese, the Oktoberfest’s location. The origins and the development of traditional elements of the fair are also showcased: Up to the present, items on the agenda, such as the pageants, the Oktoberfest Competition of Bavarian Amateur Marksmen and the Central Agricultural Exhibition contribute to the fair's maintaining its identity-conveying character of a Bavarian popular festival.

Unique written sources, historical plans, maps and photographs illustrate the social, political and economic factors which have influenced the festival. Artistically crafted postcards, advertising posters and paintings show the festival on the Theresienwiese in full colour. Audio and video recordings and historical music and sounds of the Wiesn, along with extracts from interviews with people involved at the time in question let visitors of the exhibition delve directly into the events, offering portraits of the persons who have shaped today’s Oktoberfest.

All exhibits at bavarikon can be viewed in extraordinary digital quality and can be zoomed in to see even the minutest detail. Interesting multi-page documents, such as the Oktoberfest programme of the inaugural year 1810 or the impressive coloured lithographies of the first pageants by Gustav Kraus (1804 – 1852), can additionally be browsed page by page.

Director General Klaus Ceynowa: "bavarikon is a true master at bringing the development of the Oktoberfest to life as a part of the history of Bavaria and of Munich, in particular. The exhibition again proves the cultural portal’s proficiency in presenting topics in captivating manner and in their contemporary-historical context on the basis of selected digital exhibits."

The exhibition is a project of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, which was completed in cooperation with the following partners:  Bavarian Department of State-owned Palaces, Gardens and Lakes; Bavarian Army Museum; Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte (Centre of Bavarian History); Historical Association of Upper Bavaria; Institute of City History and Remembrance Culture of the Bavarian Capital of Munich; Institute for Folklore of the Committee for Bavarian Regional History at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences; Munich City Museum; Department of Labour and Economic Affairs of the Bavarian Capital of Munich; Bavarian State Archives; Munich City Archive; Süddeutsche Zeitung Photo; Centre for Folk Music, Literature and Popular Music of the District of Upper Bavaria.

Link to the exhibition:

Press release for download  (PDF, 160 KB)  (in German)

Contact persons
Florian Sepp M. A.
Digital Library and Bavarica, Division Bavarica
Phone  +49 89 28638-2767

Irma Bachhammer M. A.
Press and Public Relations
Phone +49 89 28638-2024