The Herzog August Library was founded 450 years ago | – Culture

Status: 06.04.2022 5:17 PM

On April 5, 1572, the Herzog August Library was founded in Wolfenbüttel. On Tuesday she celebrated her 450th birthday.

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by Lydia Callies

Despite its great age and the greater age of some of its manuscripts and prints, the Herzog August Library is not a dusty book museum, but rather a world-famous research library now.

Peter Burchel, director of the Herzog August Library Museum, stands next to a 400-year-old book.  © dpa-Bildfunk Photo: Peter Steffen / dpa

Peter Burchel, director of the Herzog August Library Museum, stands next to a 400-year-old book.

Augusteerhalle opens through a heavy bronze door – heart Duke Augustus Library. High walls of books – filled with 50,000 prints – mostly of theology and history. bound in 15,000 volumes. It is still part of the sequence that Duke August himself established for organizing his library at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

Although director Peter Burchill has been to Augusteerhalle countless times, he is always amazed. “It’s the books,” he says. “If you come into the hall, you will see that many of the books have light and uniform cursive covers – and they create a very specific aura.”

In the 17th century, the library was considered the “eighth wonder of the world”

He is the Younger Duke Augustus who collects all that is rare and good. In the middle of the 17th century, the Herzog August Library was considered the “eighth wonder of the world”. Due to the number of its publications – 135,000 – it was one of the largest libraries in Europe at that time. “What you see here is a large part of what Augustus collected in the seventeenth century – during the Thirty Years’ War,” says the boy. “Everything has remained here the way he put it together – spatially altered, but not destroyed.”

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Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaking at the Herzog August Library.  © picture alliance / dpa / Julian Stratenschulte Photo: Julian Stratenschulte

The Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel celebrates its anniversary. Federal President Steinmeier congratulated the site. more

On the occasion of the anniversary, the treasury will be opened

For the anniversary, the library opens its safe – a locked room with doors that weigh tons – and displays its most valuable assets behind safety glass. Like the gospels of Henry the Lion and Mathilde of England. The masterpiece of medieval lighting was auctioned for 32.5 million marks in 1983 – at that time it was the most expensive book in the world. It is shown rarely and for a short time. This is also special to director Burchill: “Shortly after I bought it, it was shown for the first time. I was still a student at the time. Although it’s in the safe here, I haven’t seen it since.”

Search in the heart of the library

Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel.  © City of Wolfenbüttel

Today, research is the central piece of the library.

The treasury also shows curiosity: the infamous “adulterer’s gospel”, which says “you have to weigh.” Typing error. Or the lead inkton that Martin Luther threw at Satan. The library itself is not considered a museum, but a place for the transmission of knowledge. “Research is basically the central part of the library. You could say it shapes our identity,” says Director Burchill.

Scholarship holders from all over the world come to the museum

Scholarship holders from all over the world come to Wolfenbüttel to do research on important ancient stocks from the Middle Ages and the early modern period.

“It’s very exciting,” says Christoph Fassbender of Chemnitz University. “If we want to know what was taught in schools before the Reformation, it turns out that there was a lot of controversy from reformers, and nothing was taught there.” “I can use exercise books to show what the students have already written. They have good stock here.”

Today there are about a million volumes in Wolfenbüttel

Today there are about a million volumes. These include manuscripts, old prints, and artists’ books. The Jubilee Fair “We Make Books” is about turning old books into new ones.

“Not a year goes by without the discovery of new treasures, books, manuscripts, or drawings,” says curator Hall Rossler. “The library has a long history, but it probably has a much longer future because there is so much to discover!”

There is still much to discover for Peter Burchel, too. “Sometimes I take my key to Ausgusteerhalle,” he says. “Find me a seat there, a chair, and listen to the books!”

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Trinity Church and Gardener's Monument in the Old Town of Wolfenbüttel.  © City of Wolfenbüttel, Photo: H.-D.  king

The Dukes of Guelph built Wolfenbüttel as a city of arts and culture. It has not lost its charm to this day. more

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Culture NDR | 05.04.2022 | 6:40 am

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