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500th anniversary of the Reformation

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Looking towards this anniversary in 2017, the launch of the Luther Decade was celebrated in 2008. The Reformation is a crucial event in world history which has had an impact across all continents.

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Anniversary of the Reformation

On 31 October 2017 it has been 500 years since Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses. Looking towards this anniversary, the launch of the Luther Decade was celebrated in 2008. The Protestant Church in Germany (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland - EKD) and state institutions are cooperating in planning and organising the Decade. The Reformation is a crucial event in world history which has had an impact across all continents. The great Reformers – Luther, Melanchthon, Zwingli, Calvin, and others – are among the prime sources of ideas in religious and intellectual history who also had a political impact.

Luther Decade

The Luther Decade covers the broad range of topics relating to the Reformation in so-called “theme years”. In part, these are linked to historic anniversaries. For instance, the motto for 2010 was “Reformation and Education”, commemorating the 450th anniversary of the death of Melanchthon, the “Praeceptor Germaniae”, or “teacher of Germany”. However, the Decade also aims to pick up impulses from the Reformation which are felt right up to the present day.

The theme for 2016 is “Reformation and One World”. Proceeding from Wittenberg, the Reformation spread throughout the world. More than 400 million Protestants all over the world associate their spiritual and religious existence with the events of the Reformation. The focus is therefore on its global influence in 2016.

The start of the actual Reformation anniversary year 2017 was marked in Berlin on 31 October 2016 with a service and a special ceremony. You will find an overview of the themes for each year of the Luther Decade by clicking on the following link:

Luther decade - Flyer (in German) PDF / 1 MB

Federal Foreign Office projects:

With the support of the Federal Foreign Office, German and US museum partners are organising two exhibitions in the United States from October 2016 as part of the Reformation anniversary celebrations.

  • “Here I Stand” will be presented at three locations and
  • “Renaissance and Reformation: German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach” in Los Angeles.
Albrecht Dürer, Portrait of Philipp Melanchthon, Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha
Albrecht Dürer, Portrait of Philipp Melanchthon, Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha© Thomas Fuchs/Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha

The exhibition “Renaissance and Reformation: German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach” is a product of the successful cooperation between the National Museums in Berlin, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden and the Bavarian State Painting Collections, Munich. It will take place in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Significant works of art from the participating collections are to show the Reformation and its times in a new light. It will include masterpieces by Dürer, Cranach, Holbein, Riemenschneider and Grünewald which provide insights into the religious, social and political upheavals of the day.

The exhibition highlight, “Here I Stand”, will be presented in New York, Minneapolis and Atlanta. The project with this name has been organised by the Halle State Museum of Prehistory, the Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt, the German Historical Museum in Berlin and the Stiftung Schloss Friedenstein Gotha. They are cooperating with the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City, the Minneapolis Institute of Art in Minneapolis, Minnesota and the Pitts Theology Library of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

A further 26 institutions, mainly from central Germany, are supporting the project as lenders and are making items from their collections available in an unprecedented manner. Most of the exhibits are being displayed in the United States for the first time and the majority of the items have never been seen outside Germany. In this way each of the three exhibition locations is hosting unique presentations that are each tailored specifically to the American partner institutions and their target groups. Each one is one of a kind and features a combination of high‑quality exhibits which have never before been seen in this form and probably never will be again.

Indulgence chest, Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt
Indulgence chest, Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt© J. Liptàk/LDA

The exhibitions not only provide a well-founded and engaging insight into Martin Luther's life and work and the artistic, cultural and historical context of the Reformation, but also convey a unique impression of the cultural treasures that central Germany has to offer. They draw attention to the authentic locations and significant collections in the birthplace of the Reformation whose rich and striking assets are not yet as well known as they deserve to be given their significance beyond the region. At the same time, they constitute an invitation to the American public to visit these places and collections, as well as the national exhibitions and events organised in 2017 to mark the anniversary of the Reformation in Germany.

“Word and Image: Martin Luther’s Reformation”
The Morgan Library & Museum, New York
7. Oktober 2016 – 22. Januar 2017

Aachhorn, State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology, Saxony-Anhalt
Aachhorn, State Office for Heritage Management and Archaeology, Saxony-Anhalt© J. Liptàk/LDA

A special exhibition of treasures will be shown at the famous institution in the heart of Manhattan. It will focus on the events in the life of Martin Luther that played a particularly crucial role in the birth of the Reformation. The show combines a number of Luther manuscripts and important writings with selected outstanding artworks underlining the key statements of the exhibition.

“Martin Luther: Art and the Reformation”
Minneapolis Institute of Art
30. Oktober 2016 – 15. Januar 2017

Ortenburg Bible, German Historical Museum
Ortenburg Bible, German Historical Museum© J. Liptàk/LDA

The most comprehensive exhibition within the context of the “Here I stand” project not only depicts Martin Luther's life and work but also the cultural and historical context of the Reformation in the 16th century. It is being displayed at one of the ten largest art museums in the United States, which is more or less predestined for an exhibition to mark the anniversary of the Reformation due to its location in the Midwest, the Lutheran heartland of the US, and its international reputation. A unique collection of exhibits allows visitors to immerse themselves in Luther's world: ranging from archaeological finds from the Luther sites in central Germany, through Luther manuscripts, printed materials and superb paintings by Lucas Cranach the elder and the younger, right up to valuable robes and large works of art.

“Law and Grace: Martin Luther, Lucas Cranach, and the Promise of Salvation”
Pitts Theology Library, Emory University, Atlanta
11. Oktober 2016 – 15. Januar 2017

With the help of many printed materials from the important Kessler Reformation Collection at the Pitts Theology Library and selected items loaned from the four German cooperation partners, a special exhibition has been created on the theme of Lucas Cranach's depiction of “Law and Grace”. The painting portrays the central message of Luther's reform: the belief in the salvation of humanity through God's grace alone. The exhibition also traces the history of the ties that have bound Germany and North America, and particularly Georgia, for centuries.

The exhibition “Law and Grace: Martin Luther, Lucas Cranach, and the Promise of Salvation” has been organised with the support of the Halle Foundation, Atlanta.

Die Posterausstellung “#HereIstand”

A digital version of the exhibition “Here I Stand” is also available. The poster exhibition with infographics may be used by churches, schools and other interested parties for their own exhibitions and events (the German version can be ordered and sent out, the English version can be downloaded). Click here for information on ordering and downloading as well as poster examples:

www.here-i-stand.com/order

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