The legacy of Martin Luther and the Reformation is important to many people all over the world, and preserving and perpetuating this legacy is the purpose of the Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt.
The Foundation was established in 1997, and is responsible for five museums: Martin Luther’s Birthplace and the Luther’s Death House museum in Eisleben, Luther's Parental Home in Mansfeld, and the Luther House and Melanchthon House in Wittenberg. The premises in Wittenberg and Eisleben have been UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites since 1996. The collections, exhibitions and buildings are all maintained and developed by the Foundation.
Bringing the history of the Reformation to a wide audience is one of the most important objectives and responsibilities of the Luther Memorials Foundation. To this end, Foundation staff organise exhibitions and conferences, develop the collections and publish their research results. Exhibition tours, presentations and readings are also a part of the wide-ranging programme.
Another core aspect of the Foundation's efforts to acquaint more people with this history is cultural education. The Foundation has developed wide-ranging programmes for all five museums that offer children and young people, as well as adults, an opportunity to engage with the Reformation in a playful fashion while getting to know its protagonists.
The Foundation's research is focused on examining the visual impact of the Reformation and the history of its own buildings as examples of Luther's reception. Its academic efforts include research projects, conventions and serving as a publisher for various publications.
The ‘Luther 2017’ organisation was established under the Foundation's auspices back in 2007. As a result, the Foundation is a key player in the 2017 anniversary of the Reformation, marking 500 years since Luther posted his theses in 1517.
In December 1996, UNESCO recognised the Luther Memorials in Eisleben and Wittenberg as part of the cultural heritage of humanity. These buildings represent ‘a significant stage in human history’ and are ‘of outstanding universal value bearing unique testimony to the Protestant Reformation’, according to the decision document.
The Luther Memorials rank among the earliest museums in Germany dedicated to a person and his or her work and legacy. Luther’s Birthplace has been a memorial since 1693, and a museum was established in the Death House in 1894. The Augustinian monastery building in Wittenberg, which is today known as the Luther House, is where the reformer lived with his family until his death, and thereafter it quickly became a destination for visitors. The Lutherstube, Martin Luther’s living room, was already referred to as the ‘Museum Lutheri’ in 1655, and in 1883 the entire house was turned into a museum.
Another important memorial to the Reformation is the former residence of the humanist and reformer Philipp Melanchthon, which has remained virtually unchanged to this day. Melanchthon lived and worked in Wittenberg for nearly 42 years – longer than any other reformer.
In addition, the Town Church of St. Mary in Wittenberg and the Castle Church in Wittenberg have also been designated UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites.
The most important task of the Foundation is maintaining and caring for the memorial sites commemorating the history of the Reformation in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Lutherstadt Eisleben and the City of Mansfeld. The Foundation administers the historic buildings, museums and collections and makes them available to the public.
Furthermore, the Foundation preserves the heritage of the Reformation and presents it to a broad audience, and promotes research and instruction in the field of the Reformation and of its history.
The Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt is a foundation under public law. The registered office of the Foundation is in the Luther House in Wittenberg. 82 employees are currently involved in the protection, research and communication of the heritage of the Reformation in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Lutherstadt Eisleben and Mansfeld-Lutherstadt.
The executive bodies of the Foundation are the Board of Trustees and the Chairperson, and these are supported by the Academic Advisory Board.
Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees shall decide on all matters that are of fundamental importance for the Foundation, insofar as they have not been transferred to the Chairperson.
Academic Advisory Board
The Academic Advisory Board is charged with advising the Chairperson and the Board of Trustees on academic matters, particularly those pertaining to the history of the Reformation and the preservation of historic monuments.
Governmental Office ‘Luther 2017’
The Governmental Office ‘Luther 2017’ is dedicated to the implementation of the Luther Decade in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. As the official point of contact, it is responsible for overseeing the joint tasks of general and tourism marketing, creates cultural themes and event formats, and serves as a partner for foreign cultural and educational policy.
Its objective is to illustrate the impact of the Reformation on art, culture, society and politics, to publicise Germany as the ‘Land of the Reformation’ internationally, and to convey the heritage of the Reformation, such as through cultural education initiatives.
This organisation is supported and financed by the Federal Government of Germany and by the States of Bavaria, Brandenburg, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia.