The National Special Exhibitions:
The full power of the Reformation

Among the absolute highlights of these 2017 celebrations are the three National Special Exhibitions in Berlin, Eisenach, and Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Not only are they a very special exhibition project, they are also major events with an extraordinary format befitting the significance of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Three renowned German museums – the Deutsches Historisches Museum, the Wartburg Foundation, and the Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt – have prepared exhibitions on the topic of “Reformation” in all its facets and manifestations. Each exhibition has its own specific focus in both content and methodology, which makes it accessible and interesting for all visitors. The three exhibitions complement and build upon one other, offering a broad overview of important aspects of the Reformation. A visit to one exhibition is sure to make you curious to see the others.

Two of the exhibitions are on view in Wittenberg and Wartburg Castle, both authentic Luther sites that are certainly worth a visit. These are complemented by a third exhibition in Berlin. With its religious and cultural diversity, the federal capital stands as a symbol of how significant the Reformation was not only for the whole of Germany, but for the entire world. This particular and unique constellation highlights the government institutions’ intention to use these National Special Exhibitions to shed light on the Reformation and its effect on how we see ourselves today, its added value for our present society, and its spiritual, cultural, social, and political implications at the national level. But it also shows its global appeal and ability to draw international attention to Germany. And that is exactly what it promises to do: the full power of the Reformation.

The National Special Exhibitions are under the patronage of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany.



Anniversary of the Reformation 2017

October 31, 2017 marks 500 years since Martin Luther published his Ninety-Five Theses, which he is said to have nailed to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. The date Luther posted this document is widely considered the start of the Protestant Reformation, triggering a process of modernization that swept through the Church, State, and society around the world. What started in Wittenberg as a protest against the Sale of Indulgences in the 16th century would have a permanent impact on Germany, Europe, and the world.

In 2017, we will celebrate these extraordinary “500 years since the Reformation” – an anniversary of great significance not only for Protestant churches in Germany, but for the whole of society. But the year is dedicated to more than just Martin Luther and the posting of his Theses – it also looks at the impact the Protestant Reformation has on the present, and how it continues to affect and influence our lives and activities today. Last but not least, it also a casts an eye to the future because the anniversary gives us occasion to see which pillars of the Reformation continue to hold weight and how they might persist in shaping and guiding our society and actions to come. As an overall social phenomenon, the Reformation will always be an occasion for debate about the possibility of reforming our society in terms of civil and cultural development.

The Church and the government have been preparing for the anniversary of the Reformation since 2008 as part of the “Martin Luther Decade” – culminating in the 2017 celebrations. The date October 31 will also be a national holiday for the first and only time.




Poster showing the overall visual motif for the National Special Exhibitions with the red-dot logo.

Outstanding! The National Special Exhibitions’ overarching communication strategy has received the coveted “Red Dot Award: Communication Design 2016” from one of the world's most prestigious competitions for communication design.

A panel of 26 experts evaluated each of the numerous submissions in multi-day sessions. Designers and companies from 46 nations participated in the international design contest, which recognizes the best entries in the categories of product design and communication design with the Red Dot Award.

The Berlin agency “kleiner und bold” won the public tender for the development of a visual image for the three National Special Exhibitions in Berlin, Eisenach, and Lutherstadt Wittenberg. The agency’s striking umbrella brand for the exhibitions makes very effective use of bold colors and a powerful key visual (a hammer) to reach out to audiences. The image is both a direct reference to the Reformation’s legendary beginnings and an allusion to the German slang expression “Hammer!”, which is used in the positive sense to describe something impressive or extraordinary.

The slogan “The full power of the Reformation” perfectly encapsulates the scope and breadth of the presentations: Three exhibitions in three different cities shed light on the Reformation from different perspectives in such a way that they perfectly complement one other and – taken together – provide a comprehensive overview of crucial aspects of the Reformation. The simple domain “” points to the shared web presence while emphasizing the extraordinary constellation. The umbrella brand efficiently bundles all marketing activities while allowing the museums the freedom to communicate their exhibition along with their own motifs.



Message of welcome by State Minister Prof. Monika Grütters, Member of the German Bundestag

Prof. Monika Grütters MdB, German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

The Reformation was an epoch-making event, which permanently changed society and government in Germany. Martin Luther, with whom the Reformation is closely associated, did above all one thing: He asked uncomfortable questions. With his theses opposing the sale of indulgences in 1517 and his defiance of the Diet of Worms in 1521 he questioned long-standing authorities, setting them off against the freedom of individual conscience and judgement. Educating broad classes of the population took on more importance, paving the way for today's informed citizens and giving a massive boost to science and the arts. Luther translated the Bible into easily understandable German, giving individuals access to the Word of God and thus to information, understanding and participation. Not least he promoted the emergence of a standardized German language.

Owing to the enormous social importance and appeal of the Reformation the federal and state governments are actively involved in marking its 500th anniversary. The Federal Government will support a great number of events in 2017 to demonstrate the social and cultural effects of the Reformation, reveal trends and look into the impacts it still has on us today. The three national special exhibitions by the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin, the Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt in Wittenberg and the Wartburg Foundation Eisenach have a particularly high profile here, taking a wide range of perspectives and offering new and surprising insights.

The Wartburg exhibition focuses on the relation between "Luther and the Germans",  which has not always been easy, being frequently influenced by the spirit of the times, and by attempts to instrumentalize him. The exhibition "Luther! 95 Treasures – 95 People", which will be displayed in two venues in Wittenberg, pursues a different approach, describing Luther's influence on 95 great personalities over time, Martin Luther as a human being and the world he lived in. Finally, the exhibition "The Luther Effect. Protestantism – 500 Years in the World" at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin puts the historic events into a global context and highlights their international impact. These national special exhibitions will be on display only in 2017. I wish all visitors exciting encounters with the legacy of the Reformation.

Prof. Monika Grütters, Member of the German Bundestag
Minister of State for Culture and the Media