The Rhineland-Palatinate Exhibition “Here I stand. Conscience and Protest – 1521 to 2021” marks the 500th anniversary of the Diet of Worms in 1521, at which Martin Luther refused to recant his writings and theses on the sale of indulgences and on the authority of the Church to interpret the Holy Scripture. This anniversary serves as an opportunity to examine the historical development of the notion “freedom of conscience”.
The central aspect of the exhibition is Martin Luther’s appearance in Worms after being summoned, the significance of this historic event and also the myth which grew up around it and which has developed a huge dynamic force that has continued up to the present day. At this dramatic event, Luther maintained his position (“Here I stand.”), rejecting the authority of the Emperor Charles V and the power of the Church. Luther’s followers took up this claim and created the “Myth of Worms”, subsequently magnifying the events in Worms and Luther’s supposed statement (“Here I stand. I can do no other”). “Worms 1521” is regarded, especially in Protestant circles, as marking the birth of modern western freedom of conscience, a view that has been shared and taken up by political historians.
A second part of the exhibition is concerned with the topic “freedom of conscience” itself, and it does this both with and without reference to Luther’s work. One result of Luther’s writings and claims is that they gave decisive impetus to the appeal by every individual to his or her particular knowledge and conscience – bound directly to God and based on human powers of reason – something that has continued to be influential up to present times. It is therefore not only Luther who figures in the exhibition but also a number of others who, since the 16th century and up to the present, have stood up for their ideals in word and deed, many of them paying with their lives for having the courage of their convictions. The valiant writer on women’s rights Olympe de Gouges and the young Sophie Scholl (who opposed NS tyranny) continue to grip our imagination today for the way they set an example with their courage, and they are presented in the exhibition in the form of exhibits documents and key events in their lives. Others represented include figures who fought for equal rights and freedom such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Georg Büchner, and the protagonists of the “Peaceful Revolution”, which led to the reunification of Germany in 1989.
The focus of the exhibition is on its visitors today, with an appeal to them to rediscover for themselves those who fought for the principles underlying our modern freedom to make our own decisions and our individual responsibility, coupled with an appeal to try, “to the best of their knowledge and belief”, to find answers to the urgent questions that face us today, such as climate change, war and peace, equal rights, feeding the world's population, environmental protection, and the distribution of resources. Luther's claim that his belief was based on the Holy Scripture and was bound to God is a basis that is probably foreign to exhibition visitors today. However, the history of 500 years of freedom of conscience shows not only that conscience was always subject to certain conditions but also that freedom of conscience and restrictions on that freedom have always continued to develop.
This special exhibition is complemented by a wide and rich range of informative events, including guided tours, talks and discussion forums. Information on each of the events in this programme are available here.
|Monday||closed (except for November 1st and December 27th)|
|Tuesday – Sunday and Public holidays||10-18|
|12 – 18-year-olds||5 EUR|
|Family ticket (2 adults and one or more children between 12 and 18)||19 EUR|
|Groups of adults booked in advance (at least 10 and no more than 25, 1 accompanying person free of charge)||6 EUR per person|
|Groups of schoolchildren booked in advance (at least 10 and no more than 25, 1 accompanying person free of charge)||3 EUR per person|
*trainees, students/schoolchildren, doing voluntary service, receiving income support, Disabled (50 % disability or more)
Free admission for: children under 12, members of the Altertumsverein, class visits to the museum by groups from schools in Worms, members of the Bundesverband der Gästeführer, members of the Deutscher Museumsbund or the Museumsverband Rheinland-Pfalz