The legacy of Martin Luther and the Reformation is important to many people around the world. It is the task of the Luther Memorials Foundation in Saxony-Anhalt to preserve and communicate this heritage.
The most important responsibility for the Foundation is the maintenance and preservation of the memorials to the Reformation in Lutherstadt Wittenberg and Lutherstadt Eisleben, as well as in the town of Mansfeld. The Foundation maintains historical buildings, museums and collections and opens these up to the public.
They also protect, present and teach about the legacy of the Reformation and promote the research and teaching of the Reformation and Reformation history.
History of the foundation
The Foundation was established in 1997. It is the custodian of five museums: Luther’s Birth Place and Luther’s Death House in Eisleben, Luther’s Parents' Home in Mansfeld, and the Luther House and Melanchthon House in Wittenberg. The houses in Wittenberg and Eisleben have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1996. The Foundation maintains and develops the buildings as well as the collections and exhibitions.
One of the Foundation’s main responsibilities is to provide a diverse learning program on the history of the Reformation. To do this, we organize new exhibitions and seminars, add to our collections and publish research results. We also provide guided tours of our exhibitions and give lectures and seminars.
Central to this learning program is cultural education. The Foundation has developed a range of events for all of our five museums. They are aimed at children, young people and adults and offer them the chance to engage with the Reformation in a fun atmosphere and learn about the main protagonists.
The Foundation’s research focuses on the reappraisal of the visual impact of the Reformation and the history of our houses as examples of the reception of Luther. Research activities include research projects, conferences and editorship of publications.
In 2007, the Luther 2017 initiative was created under the umbrella of the Foundation. The Foundation played a central role in the creation of content and the organization of the “Decade of Luther” in the run up to the anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, when Luther’s posting of the 95 theses celebrated its 500th anniversary.
The Luther Memorials Foundation in Saxony-Anhalt is a Foundation by public law. The headquarters are located in the Luther House in Wittenberg. At present, around 50 employees protect, research and teach about the legacy of the Reformation in Lutherstadt Wittenberg and Lutherstadt Eisleben as well as in Mansfeld-Lutherstadt.
The Foundation bodies are the board of trustees and the executive board which are supported by the academic advisory board.
UNESCO World Heritage
The Luther memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg gained UNESCO World Heritage status in December 1996. The buildings were described as representing “an important stage in human history” and are “an authentic Reformation site of exceptional, global importance.”
The Luther memorials were among the first museums in Germany to be dedicated to a person, their impact and legacy. Luther’s Birth Place has been a memorial site since 1693 and the Last Residence was converted into a museum in 1894. Shortly after, the Augustinian monastery in Wittenberg (what is known today as the Luther House where the Reformer lived with his family until his death) became a destination for pilgrims. The Luther Room became known as the “Museum Lutheri” in 1655, before the house was reopened in 1883 as the “Luther Hall” museum.
Another important place of remembrance for the Reformation is the former residence of the humanist and Reformer Philipp Melanchthon, which has remained largely unchanged. Melanchthon lived and worked in Wittenberg for 42 years, longer than any other Reformer.
The Wittenberg town church of Saint Marien and the Wittenberg castle chapel are also UNESCO World Heritage “Luther Memorials.”
Members of the board of trustees
The board of trustees is responsible for all matters pertaining to the Foundation, insofar as these are not transferred to the executive board.
Minister of State Rainer Robra, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, State Chancellery and Ministry of Culture of the State of Saxony-Anhalt
Dr. Sigrid Bias-Engels, Vice-Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees, The Commissioner for Culture and the Media
Andreas Grobe, Ministry of Finance of the State of Saxony-Anhalt
Dr. Thies Gundlach, Vice-President of the Church Office of the Evangelical Church of Germany
Dr. Johann Schneider, Protestant Church in Central Germany
Prof. Dr. Udo Sträter, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Lord Mayor Torsten Zugehör, Lutherstadt Wittenberg
Lord Mayoress Jutta Fischer, Lutherstadt Eisleben
Mayor Andreas Koch, Mansfeld-Lutherstadt
Members of the academic advisory board
The academic advisory board advises the executive board and the board of trustees in all academic matters, in particular those pertaining to Reformation history and historic preservation matters.
Prof. Dr. Dr. Johannes Schilling, Kiel (presidency)
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Barth, Halle
Prof. Dr. Margit Kern, Hamburg
Prof. Dr. Volker Leppin, Tübingen
Dr. Stefan Michel, Leipzig
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schenkluhn, Halle
Günter Schuchardt, Eisenach
Gisela Staupe, Dresden