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More halls, more exhibits

Unique medieval books on show at new exhibition at Grodno’s museum

By Yelena Stasova

The Museum of Religious History in Grodno is launching its Belarusian Religion and Culture exhibition, opening four new halls dedicated to the 14th-18th century’s Orthodox, Catholic, Uniate and Protestant cultural traditions within Belarusian territory. Books, icons, sculptures of saints and other religious items are on display — including very rare medieval editions. One Roman Catholic book of prayer was published in Venice in 1586, while Belarusian manuscripts from the 17th century include a 1644 Gospel — uniquely illustrated by a painter from the ‘circle’ of first printer Piotr Mstislavets.

The exhibition features unique icons, church vestments and chalices, and models of particular Orthodox and Catholic churches; there are over 150 new exhibits on show in total.

From 1992-2009, the museum underwent reconstruction, acquiring eleven exposition halls, two exhibition halls and one concert hall. A year ago, the first stage of its major exhibition was unveiled in six halls, showing relics from pre-Christian times and from the dawn of the new religion, alongside artefacts from the faiths of Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Islam and Judaism in Belarus. Those from the age of atheism were also on display, as were items from modern day religious life in Belarus.

The museum has been organising musical evenings, as well as its Epoch. Time. Building permanent exhibition — dedicated to the history of the museum building and its owners, as well as the way of life of Grodno residents in the 19th century.

The Museum of Religious History (previously of Atheism) was founded in Grodno in 1977, located in the centre of the city, in a two storey stone palace built from the 18th-20th century. It was initially owned by Karol Chreptowicz, a member of a magnate family, and then transferred to Grodno headman Antoni Tyzenhaus, before being home to the Vice Marshall of the Major Lithuanian Tribunal, Franciszek Muczinski. It finally passed on to publicist, translator, philosopher and colonel Ignaty Lyakhnitsky.

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