MIA honoring 500th anniversary of Protestant Reformation

Exhibit explores impact of major religious change

Yonit Krebs

The Minnesota Institute of Art (MIA) hosts the “Martin Luther: Art and the Reformation” exhibit to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s “Ninety-Five Theses”. According to Tammy Pleshek, the Mia’s Public Relations Specialist, to honor this significant point in history, the MIA will display the first major art exhibition in the United States on the impact of the Protestant Reformation.

“Minnesota is home to one of the largest Lutheran populations in the nation, so this story has special resonance here,” Pleshek said. “The incredible works of art and objects in the exhibition will allow us to show our visitors, Lutherans and art lovers alike, how this movement gained momentum and flourished during Martin Luther’s time and beyond.”

Pleshek said the re-installation of The Luther House’s permanent Reformation exhibit creates the opportunity for these artworks to travel from Wittenberg, Germany to Minneapolis.

“The artworks in our exhibition will not be shown anywhere else in the United States. There will be exhibitions devoted to Martin Luther at The Morgan Library & Museum in New York and the Pitts Theology Library in Atlanta,” Pleshek said. “Each exhibition is designed to focus on a different aspect of Luther’s life and legacy, and together will complement each other.”

AP European History teacher Jeff Cohen’s initial reaction to hearing about this exhibit was one of excitement.

“It’s one of my favorite topics that I teach and I pay attention to what comes to that institute,” Cohen said. “So when I saw that this subject matter was coming to the art institute I was just very excited for both me and my students. What an opportunity to see something that hasn’t left Germany since the Reformation happened, 500 years ago.”

According to Pleshek, the exhibit features paintings, sculptures, gold, textiles and works on paper. Highlights include sixteen paintings from Lucas Cranach the Elder’s studio; the pulpit of Luther’s last sermon; Maximillian’s pilgrimage robe; The Altar of the Virgin Mary from Naumburg Cathedral; and the model of Luther’s grave marker.

Cohen said he finds it intriguing to be able to see an exhibit that highlights an event that impacted so much of history.

“I’m excited to see some of Luther’s actual writings and just the handwriting of this guy that changed the face of the world,” Cohen said. “Charles V, who is another significant person that we teach about, has some of his battle armor and artifacts there, so there’s a lot that I’m looking forward to.”

Although Cohen does not anticipate high student turnout, he said he’d love for lots of students to come and experience the learning opportunity this exhibit presents.

“I think I would get 20-25 students who I think would be interested even going on their own time to go check this out and kind of see first hand about some of the stuff that we’re learning,” Cohen said.

Despite Cohen’s skepticism of student interest, sophomore Isabelle Becker, a student in Cohen’s AP European history class, said she would go to the exhibit.

“I think it would be really cool to see all that stuff, especially since we know the background of it from the class, so we can definitely get a lot out of that,” Becker said.

Grace Hammond, another sophomore in Cohen’s AP Euro class, also expressed interest in the Martin Luther exhibit.

“I would go to the Mscreen_shot_2016-10-03_at_12-55-59_pmIA to see the Martin Luther exhibit because I think it’s really cool that something that hasn’t been shown for a really long time is coming around the world and we can go see it,” Hammond said. “Without Martin Luther I wouldn’t exist. My dad’s a pastor and now because of that pastors can have kids. I would like to see something that has shaped a lot of our culture today.”

The exhibit runs Oct. 30, 2016-Jan. 15, 2016 at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. MIA gallery hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and is closed on Monday. Tickets cost $20 for non-members and $16 for MIA members.