The exhibition tells exciting stories in 70 original objects, enables discoveries and offers new perspectives on the remarkable collections and outstanding manuscripts and books. It draws on the rich holdings of the research library and also offers loans of archival documents, paintings and film material from seven German institutions. Among the lenders are the Gotha State Archives and the Friedenstein Castle Gotha Foundation.
In addition to well-known and, for conservation reasons, very rarely shown in the original, the exhibition features top pieces such as the Arabic manuscript selected as a UNESCO World Documentary Heritage and Martin Luther's translation of the Bible in his own hand, as well as numerous new discoveries. These include the never-before-seen founding document from 1647 as well as newly discovered documents on the library's removal as war booty of the Second World War to the Soviet Union in 1946 and on the library's return in 1956. It also asks how the dukes and duchesses of Gotha presented themselves in front of and with books, who actually visited the library through the centuries, how the valuable books were used in the first place and on what adventurous paths the manuscripts arrived at the Gotha library at Friedenstein Palace.
At the same time, the show looks to the present and exclusively shows a film from 2020/2021 on the static securing of the east tower of Friedenstein Palace, which is home to the library and will be renovated over the next few years. It presents "flying" books and a digital world map of the international researchers who come to the library with the Herzog Ernst Fellowship Programme. It makes it possible to digitally "leaf through" valuable manuscripts that were brought from Gotha to Coburg and sold by the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha's Foundation for Art and Science in the 1930s and by the Ducal House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1945 and are now in archives and libraries worldwide.
The exhibition also offers listening stations on wide-ranging topics such as the depiction of a sloth from a 17th century handwritten Gotha travel report to the installation of a spiral staircase as fire protection in the east tower of Friedenstein Palace in the 19th century. There will also be hands-on activities for children and adult visitors to the exhibition.
Guided tours through the exhibition
Meeting point: Ducal staircase, 2nd floor
Wednesday tours: 13 April, 20 April, 27 April, 11 May, 18 May, 25 May - each at 1 p.m.
Curator's tour on Wednesday, 5 p.m. each: 4 May, 1 June, 8 June
Curator's tour on Saturdays, 2 p.m. each: 7 May, 18 June
Due to the pandemic, registration for the events is mandatory. Please note the current information and regulations for participation in the events during the pandemic at: www.uni-erfurt.de/en/gotha-research-library.
The exhibition is accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue with the latest research results of the scientists and librarians of the research library as well as object descriptions of all originals shown in the exhibition.
Kathrin Paasch (ed.)
Bücher bewegen. 375 Jahre Forschungsbibliothek Gotha
296 pages with 241 colour illustrations
Save the Date: Part of the exhibition is also the presentation of a student design project for the new building of the research library under the direction of Prof. Jörg Springer at the Bauhaus University Weimar in the winter semester 2021/2022. The students will present the results of the project in detail to the press on 10 May 2022. Afterwards, the students will discuss the project with all interested parties in Gotha in the library. - Separate information will be provided.
Picture credits: Depiction of a sloth in Caspar Schmalkalden's handwritten travel report, Gotha, 1659 (Gotha Research Library, Chart. B 533, f. 110r). Caspar Schmalkalden: Journey from Amsterdam to Pharnambuco in Brasil. Manuscript, Gotha, c. 1659