The aim of this paper is to explore the relationship between national museums and memorial places dedicated to individuals. Taking the Goethe National Museum in Weimar as a starting point; we try to develop a new approach in understanding the type of museum designated as a ânational museumâ. First; we show that the name âGoethe National Museumâ referred initially to Goetheâs house and in particular his study as the most important memorial site. The Goethe National Museum adopts a new type of âindividual memorial placeâ â known in German as a âPersonengedenkstĂ€tteâ â that is established in a former residential dwelling. It is the only individual memorial place that was called a national museum in 19th century Europe. Drawing on this special case; it can be shown that national museums in 19th century Germany follow the model of memorial places dedicated to individuals. Neither the Germanic National Museum (1852); the Bavarian National Museum (1855); the Goethe National Museum (1885) nor the Schiller National Museum (1903) were founded with the primary aim of creating collections as it would be usually expected from other museums. Their aim was rather to appropriate or create a central place to remember the national past as a historical continuum; to represent the life and the deeds of persons connected with the national identity. The Goethehaus Weimar is a special case insofar as a real commemorative site forms the basis of this national museum. Our considerations are framed by the theory of society developed by the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann; who saw a correlation between the rise of the semantics of the nation and the shift to modernity occurring in most European societies during the 18th century. We argue that these semantics are mapped to national museums in the form of memorial places.