Marking 500 years since the beginning of the Reformation and reflecting on the significant impact of early Lutheranism on the Latvian language and culture, an exhibition Luther. The Turn since 31 October, Reformation Day is opened at the atrium of the National Library of Latvia (NLL). This means that Rīga and Latvia, as part of national centenary celebrations, are integrated into the international commemoration of Martin Luther and the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The exhibition is being organised by the NLL in cooperation with the Strasbourg National and University Library (SNUB) and the Württemberg Land Library (VZB) in Stuttgart.
The 95 theses that Martin Luther (1483-1546) published in Wittenberg in 1517 and the Reformation they initiated transformed Europe. Luther’s ideas changed not only the relationship between man and God, but also secular life, creating a world in which sin has less significance than mercy, but to the word holds significantly more value than tradition. Lutheranism also strongly influenced the culture of Livonia (today’s Latvia and Estonia), promoting the creation of written Latvian and Estonian languages and textual cultures in the first decades of the Reformation, and influencing future development over several centuries.
The Luther. The Turn exhibition is structured as a story about Luther, his teachings and how the Reform movement spread through Europe in the early 16th century, comparatively rapidly reaching Strasbourg in Alsace and Rīga in Livonia. The exhibition will portray piety in Europe and the Rhine Valley before the Reformation, displaying unique medieval sacred art works and cult artefacts.
In turn, Luther’s personality and the beginning of the Reformation in Wittenberg in 1517 are described with the help of the main media of this movement – printed books. An important role in the exhibition is played by the story of the first written and printed texts in Latvian, created under the influence of Luther’s teachings. Simultaneously, the exhibition will feature books printed in the 1620s intended for Rīga, showing, in the context of this era, how quickly Luther’s message reached the periphery of Western Christianity – Livonia.
The exhibition will feature both objects of art – Catholic church cult artefacts – and books. Artefacts will be borrowed from the collections of Latvian museums – the Rundale Palace Museum and the Museum of Latvian National History. The core of the exhibition will comprise books from the collections of the NLL, SNUB, VZB, the University of Latvia Academic Library, the Bavarian State Library, the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel and the Uppsala University Library.
Exhibit texts and information will be available in Latvian and English. In addition, a comprehensive and lavish exhibition catalogue will be issued.
Curators: Gustavs Strenga and Andris Levāns
Concept: Madeleine Zeller, Benoît Jordan, Matthieu Arnold
Graphic design: Una Granta
Scenography: Reinis Suhanovs
Project Director: Brigita Zelča-Aispure
The Luther. The Turn exhibition is being financed by the Latvian State’s centenary programme funds. The exhibition is supported by the Foreign Ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Latvia.
The exhibition will be accompanied by several related events – artistic and musical performances and a series of discussions on the impact of the Reformation and Protestantism on present-day Latvia, Europe and the world. The discussions will be webcast and recorded, with the support of the Goethe Institute in Riga.
The Luther. The Turn exhibition will be open until 4 February 2018, during NLL working hours.
Entry is free.
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