The full power of the Reformation
The National Special Exhibitions

Some events not only leave their mark on history, but change the world. The reformation of the Church in the fifteenth century was one such event - triggered when Martin Luther, so legend has it, nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg. The epoch-making transformations his theses brought about had an impact throughout every continent. Today, almost 500 years later, we can observe the Reformation's long-term global impact. The anniversary year of 2017 sees the staging of several prestigious events dedicated to this influence, an influence that can still be felt today.

A special, unique anniversary calls for a special, unique experience however: hence a significant highlight will be three National Special Exhibitions hosted by Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Wartburg Castle in Eisenach, and Berlin. They represent a key contribution by the state sponsors to commemorating this outstanding event in unique fashion in the festive year of 2017. At the same time, the Special Exhibitions provide visitors with the opportunity to discover the roots of our own society and how an historical event in Germany had a global impact and how it can still be felt in our culture today.

The exhibitions each take a different approach to the theme of the Reformation and to providing an encounter with Luther's life and works. In doing so, they complement each other and present the Reformation in all its facets - visiting all three Special Exhibitions will thus be a special and unique experience.


The National Special Exhibition

In order to show such a complex and historically significant event as the Reformation and to make it accessible for a broad public, three National Special Exhibitions will focus on the theme in the anniversary year of 2017.

The Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin's exhibition "The Luther Effect. Protestantism - 500 Years in the World" tells the story of the global impact of Protestantism and its spiritual, cultural and political interactions. A selection of examples trace the influence the confession has had on religions and ideas on how life should be lived. This clearly internationally-oriented approach focuses on the Reformation as an important world-historical event.

Another, complementary aspect is taken up by the exhibition at Wartburg Castle in Eisenach. As is evident from the title, "Luther and the Germans", here the focus is turned inwards towards German history. The exhibition shows how Lutheranism has shaped each epoch, but also how each epoch has formed its own image of Luther. Along with political history, the exhibition invites people to immerse themselves in the history of German culture and thought.

In Wittenberg the focus is on Martin Luther the man. "Luther! 95 Treasures - 95 People" presents, on the one hand, various personalities, their relationship with Martin Luther and how they were influenced or shaped by him - both positively and negatively. On the other hand, this exhibition seeks to free the reformer himself from 500 years of historical reception. "95 treasures" will shed light on Martin Luther the man, his circumstances, his everyday life and the age he lived in.

additional information

Staatliche Geschäftsstelle „Luther 2017“

Nina Mütze

Collegienstr. 62c

06886 Lutherstadt Wittenberg

+49 (0) 3491/ 466-239

The National Special Exhibitions on the anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 are staged under the patronage of the German Federal President.


The Luther Effect.
Protestantism - 500 Years in the World

For the very first time, an exhibition illustrates the global diversity and impact of Protestantism, but also the potential for conflict it has tended to have between cultures.

Peaceable Kingdom

How has Protestantism impacted on other confessions, religions and ideas on life? How did such encounters transform Protestantism itself? And, just as importantly, how have people appropriated, shaped and lived Protestant teachings? The exhibition "The Luther Effect. Protestantism - 500 Years in the World" tells the truly global story of the impact and independencies of Protestantism, spanning from around 1500 to the present day. This is achieved by using a selection of different cases: Germany and Europe 1450-1600; Sweden 1500-1700; North America 1600-1900; Korea 1850-2000 and today's Tanzania.

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Deutsches Historisches Museum

Nationale Sonderausstellung

zum Reformationsjubiläum 2017

Der Luthereffekt. 500 Jahre Protestantismus in der Welt

12. April 2017 - 5. November 2017



Niederkirchnerstraße 7

10963 Berlin

+49 (0) 30/ 2030-40

The Deutsches Historisches Museum presents the exhibition in the Martin-Gropius-Bau with a display spanning approximately 3,000 square metres and brings together outstanding exhibits acquired as national and international loans. Many of these items have never been seen in Germany before. Comprehensive communication and an attractive supplementary programme complement the exhibition, which will be documented by a well-illustrated catalogue.


Luther and the Germans

With over 350,000 visistors a year, today Wartburg Castle in Eisenach is the world's most-visited Luther site. For almost a year its thick walls protected the reformer as he translated the New Testament into German, having been declared an outlaw by the Diet of Worms in 1521. His translation provided the foundations for a standardised German written language.

Luther's Bible

Yet Luther and Lutheranism influenced "the Germans" in many other ways too. The emphasis on education and the emergence of a "bourgeois" clergy in the form of the pastor's family contributed to the Germans' self-concept as a nation. On a political level, Reformatory thought and the ensuing schism triggered several military conflicts, such as the Peasant's War of 1525 and the Thirty Years' War. In particular, the reformer's alleged deference to authority would later become stylised as the "original sin" of the Germans - an interpretation that had an enduring influence on Luther reception in the GDR, for instance.

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Nationale Sonderausstellung

zum Reformationsjubiläum 2017

Luther und die Deutschen

4. Mai 2017 - 5. November 2017



Auf der Wartburg 1

99817 Eisenach

+49 (0) 36 91/ 25-00

The exhibition shows how each epoch in German history has formed its own image of Luther. Striking Reformatory leitmotivs are presented in the context of cultural and political developments and the arc of Luther's historical influence is traced from his world to the present. The famous Luther room, the authentic living quarters of the reformer, forms the atmospheric finale to the exhibition.


Luther's stay on the Wartburg, situated formidably above Eisenach, was not long and not entirely voluntary. From May 4th, 1521, until March 1st, 1522, the theologian lived there in a quaint cell that can be visited today as "Luther's Room".

Outlawed and unrecognised at Wartburg Castle

Martin Luther spent just under a year at Wartburg Castle in Eisenach against his will. Going incognito under the false name of Junker Jörg, he translated the New Testament into German everyone could understand, making an important contribution not only to theology but also to the development of a standard national language.


Luther! 95 Treasures - 95 People

Wittenberg is the place where the Reformation originated and the most important station in Martin Luther's life. This authentic site plays host to the exhibition "Luther! 95 Treasures - 95 People" in 2017.

Luther room in Wittenberg

The first part introduces 95 people and their existential relationship with Martin Luther and his works. Luther's influence varied: he both inspired and provoked people, he both moved and repelled them - but he was never met with indifference. 95 approaches to Luther are presented, inviting visitors to find their own approach. And the question is raised as to what Luther can mean to us today.

The second part is dedicated to Martin Luther the man. It is time for the historical figure of Martin Luther,   disguised by five centuries of historical reception, to be set free again by this exhibition. To this end, "95 Treasures" provide people with a direct experience of Luther. Such precious loans from collections at home and abroad include Luther's private Bible from Coburg Fortress, archaeological finds from the places associated with his life and works, and the will written in his own hand from 1542.

National Special Exhibition “Luther! 95 Treasures - 95 People” planned

The exhibition “Luther! 95 Treasures - 95 People” presents 95 people and their individual relationships with Martin Luther and his work in an initial stage from 13 May to 5 November 2017.

additional information

Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt

Nationale Sonderausstellung

zum Reformationsjubiläum 2017

Luther! 95 Schätze – 95 Menschen

13. Mai 2017 - 5. November 2017



Collegienstr. 54

06886 Lutherstadt Wittenberg

+49 (0) 34 91 / 4203-171


Exhibition sites

In the shape of Wittenberg and Wartburg Castle, two of the exhibitions are taking place at authentic "Luther sites", which are well worth exploring in their own right. To round things off, a third exhibition site is the federal capital, Berlin, signifying the importance of the Reformation for Germany as a whole.

Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin

Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin
Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin (Photo: © Jansch, 2012)

What better German city than Berlin to draw attention to the international significance of the Reformation? With over 3.5 million people from over 180 nations, today Berlin is a city of religious diversity in which people from all over the world, with and without a religion, coexist peacefully. Although Martin Luther never set foot in the town on the river Spree during his lifetime, he had a crucial impact on Berlin's development from a small imperial residence to a metropolis home to several million, as well as on the character of those inhabitants.

From April 2017 on the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin's Martin-Gropius-Bau will be staging the National Special Exhibition marking the anniversay of the Reformation under the title "The Luther Effect. Protestantism - 500 Years in the World". Over 3,000 square metres tell the story of the Reformation's global impact and interactions - from Europe and North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to Korea in the nineteenth and twentieth and present-day Tanzania.

Wartburg Castle in Eisenach

Wartburg Castle
Wartburg Castle in Eisenach (Photo: © Wartburg-Stiftung)

Wartburg Castle, perched high above the Thuringian town of Eisenach, is connected to German history like no other fortress: in the Middle Ages it was the site of the legendary minstrel contests; later the beatified Elisabeth of Thuringia was based here; Goethe marvelled at the natural beauty of the local landscape, and it was here that students gathered for Germany's first bourgeois democratic assembly. Its most significant event however must be the time Martin Luther spent at the castle between May 1521 and March 1522. Incognito, going by the pseudonym Junker Jörg, having been outlawed by the emperor and excommunicated by the Pope, Luther translated the New Testament, within a matter of a few weeks, into German that could be undestood by everyone - and in so doing made a significant contribution to the standardisation of the German national language.

Today his spartan dwellings above the Burghof, the world famous Luther room, attract 350,000 visitors to the castle each year, making it the world's most-visited Luther site. Its great historical significance saw it listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.

In 2017 it will host the National Special Exhibition "Luther and the Germans", which illuminates Martin Luther's enormous influence on the history of German culture, not least by asking to what extent the reformer, idealised as a national hero in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, really contributed to the development of an overarching German identity.

Augusteum/Lutherhaus Wittenberg

Augusteum/Lutherhaus Wittenberg
Augusteum/Lutherhaus Wittenberg (Photo: © Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt)

Black monastery", "rear building of the Augusteum",  "Luther hall" and finally "Luther house" - the different names reflect the changing history of Luther's house in Wittenberg and its different uses over 500 years.

For nearly 35 years it was Martin Luther's main home and workplace. He lived here as a monk from 1508 on, and with his wife, Katharina von Bora, and their children as a husband and father from 1525. As a professor of theology he worked, wrote and gave lectures to students from all over Europe in this building. His heirs sold the house to Wittenberg University in 1564. After 1816 it was used by the Evangelical preacher's seminary and in 1834 a free school for the poor was opened on the ground floor. Since 1883 the house has been a public museum; today it is the world's largest museum of the history of the Reformation. The permanent exhibition presents the life and works of the reformer, but also his everyday family life and the rich history of his influence. The museum only exhibits original items.

In 2017 this authentic site will stage the National Special Exhibition "Luther! 95 Treasures - 95 People". The exhibition will be hosted by the Augusteum, the front building to Luther's house, where the successful state exhibition "Lucas Cranach - Discovery of a Master" was held. The first part of the exhibition introduces people whose lives were influenced by Martin Luther in one way or another. The second part is dedicated to his tangible legacy: an exhibition of treasures displays authentic objects directly connected to the Reformation - precious loan items from home and abroad that provide rare insights into the universe of Martin Luther.