Exhibition at the Herzog August Library Wolfenbüttel / MWW Research Association
15th January – 17th April 2017
Extended 18th June
Augusteerhalle der Bibliotheca Augusta
Exhibition opening on Sunday 15th January 2017, 2 pm with an Introductory speech by Professor Lyndal Roper, Regius Professor of History at University of Oxford
Martin Luther is one of the towering figures in Germany´s culture of remembrance. In the public sphere, the reformer is remembered through monuments, churches, street names, journals, books, comics, postcards, stamps and coins, not to mention anniversary celebrations and exhibitions. But who exactly are we remembering? Who was Martin Luther? Over the past 500 years, there have been countless answers given to this only seemingly trivial question. Even during his life time, Martin Luther became a figure who was not only the object of cult-like reverence and bitter hostility, but who also served as the legitimising instrument and a medium for identity politics in changing social, political and economic contexts. A multitude of Luther images emerged, some of which have remained potent to this day: saint, heretic, prophet, Antichrist, father of the church, splitter of the church, enlightener, anti-Semite, genius, charlatan, national hero and prince’s servant.
The exhibition ‘Luthermania: Angles on a Cult Figure’ aims to show that these images of Luther have an origin and a history, that they were shaped by social and political conditions, and by cultural developments and crises at the time. About 70 pieces are presented in the exhibition and discussed in a 400 page catalogue. They reveal little about Luther, the man; rather they are material agents which were assigned the function of producing a particular ‘visibility’ tainted with preconceptions, ascribed values, ideals and intentions. These objects reduced an obscure, complex and possibly contradictory individual to a clearly contoured, unambiguous and, indeed, distinct figure. In short, they created ‘Luther.’ The Wolfenbüttel exhibition presents four significant cultural ‘arenas’ in which images of Luther developed and had an effect over a long period of time: Luther, the saint, Luther, the devil, Luther, the brand and Luther, the German.
The majority of the objects and books originate from the Herzog August Library collection from the 16th and 17th centuries; they include numerous portraits, satirical pamphlets and unusual objects, such as an inkwell which Luther is said to have thrown at the devil.
Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm
For more information about the museum, visit the Herzog August Library website.
The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive virtual exhibition: www.luthermania.de
Exhibition flyer (in German)
Press release (in German)