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Museum Monday

Plantin Moretus Museum, Museum Monday, museums, virtual tour, museum experience, social media

Plantin Moretus Museum, Antwerp, Belgium

November 5, 2012

By Mary Jo Gibson

Today on Museum Monday, we are visiting the Plantin Moretus Museum in Antwerp, Belgium, which honors the famous printers Christophe Plantin and Jan Moretus.  It is located in their former residence and printing establishment, Plantin Press.

The site offers a video tour of the building, and some tutorials about printing and art.  The Museum possesses an exceptional collection of typographical materials, and the two oldest surviving printing presses with a complete set of dies and matrices.  The extensive library with its richly decorated interior and archive of the business is part of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program, registered in 2001 in recognition of their historical significance.  Let’s go inside and see what we can find!

Entrance to Plantin Moretus Museum, Museum Monday, social media, museum experience, virtual tour

Entrance to Plantin Moretus Museum

Tapestries at the Plantin Moretus Museum, Museum Monday, social media, virtual tour, museum experience

Tapestries at the Plantin Moretus Museum

Library at the Plantin Moretus Museum, virtual tour, Museum Monday, social media, museum experience

Library at the Plantin Moretus Museum

The Residence, Museum Monday, social media, virtual tour, museum experience

The Residence

Second LIbrary, Museum Monday, social media, virtual tour, museum experience

Second Library

The thriving enterprise of Plantin produced 2450 works, and was continued after the death of Christophe Plantin by his son in law, Jan I Moretus (1543-1610), and then his son Balthasar I Moretus (1574-1641).  His friendship with Peter Paul Rubens consolidated the firm’s reputation.  The famous artist produced drawings of exceptional works of Baroque publishing.  The international reputation led to visits by Marie de Medici in 1631, Queen Christina of Sweden in 1654 and a number of Italian and Polish aristocrats.

The collection features the Biblia Polyglotta (1568-1573), a Bible in five languages

The Thesaurus Teutoniae Linguae

Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, a geographical book by Abraham Ortelius

Cruydeboeck, by Rembert Dodoens, a book describing herbs

A book on anatomy by Andreas Vesalius and Joannes Valverde

Paintings and drawings by Peter Paul Rubens

A study by humanist Justus Lipsius and many of his works

The Deposition, Lucas Vorsteman, 1595-1675, after Peter Paul Rubens, 1577-1640, ca. 1620, Plantin Moretus Museum, Museum Monday, social media, virtual tour, museum experience

The Deposition, Lucas Vorsteman, 1595-1675, after Peter Paul Rubens, 1577-1640, ca. 1620

In the first half of the 16th century, Paris was a dangerous place for anyone in the book trade suspected of disseminating literature tinged with Reformation ideas.  This may have prompted Platnin’s move to the more liberal atmosphere of Antwerp in 1549.

Even in Antwerp, printers had to be careful.  Plantin’s property is seized in 1562 because he sold a heretical pamphlet, but he conceived an ambitious project that would place his credentials as faithful servant of the Church beyond doubt.  He planned to print the multi-volume polyglot Bible in Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Chaldaic (Middle Eastern language), and Syriac.  He sought sponsorship from one of the most powerful men in Europe, Philip II, whose domain encompassed not only the kingdom of Spain by all the Netherlands.  Because of the royal sanction, the Bible became known as the Biblia Regia.

Polygot Bible, Plantin Moretus Museum, Museum Monday, social media, virtual tour, museum experience

Polygot Bible

Philip II insisted that a learned Spanish clergyman, Benito Arias Montano, should supervise the project.  The multi-volume project became a difficult and expensive undertaking.  New typefaces were struck in the Greek and Hebrew alphabets.   Plantin’s son in law and business partner, Jan Moretus, was fluent in Greek, but compositors employed who were capable of setting Hebrew.  Philip II proved far readier at sending instructions than at forwarding the financial aid he had promised.  Even after publication of all eight volumes, the problems did not cease.  A rival scholar denounced Montano to the Spanish Inquisition, claiming that the Hebrew and Chaldaic sections were overly supportive of Jewish beliefs.  Montano was acquitted, but nobody in the 16th century stood before the Inquisition without anxiety.

With various typefaces skillfully arranged on the page to avoid confusion, the Polyglot Bible is regarded as Plantin’s masterpiece as a printer.

Abraham Ortelius by Peter Paul Rubens, Museum Monday, social media, virtual tour, museum experience

Abraham Ortelius by Peter Paul Rubens

Abraham Ortelius’ momumental work, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, regarded as the first atlas to appear.  It was an instant success and four issues of the first edition are published in 1570.  When it appeared, it was the most expensive book ever printed.  The enthusiasm from the public resulted in 7300 copies from 1570-1612.

Map of Alexander the Great's conquests, Museum Monday, social media, virtual tour, museum experience

Map of Alexander the Great’s conquests

The thriving enterprise of Plantin produced 2450 works, and continuing after the death of Christophe Plantin by his son-in-law, Jan I Moretus (1543-1610), and then his son Balthasar I Moretus (1574-1641).  His friendship with Peter Paul Rubens consolidated the firm’s reputation.  The famous artist produced drawings of exceptional works of Baroque publishing.  The international reputation led to visits by Marie de Medici in 1631, Queen Christina of Sweden in 1654 and a number of Italian and Polish aristocrats.

Balthasar Moretus, Plantin Moretus Museum, social media, Musuem Monday, virtual tour, museum experience

Balthasar Moretus 1574-1641

Book Illustration by Rubens, Plantin Moretus Museum, Museum Monday, social media, virtual tour, museum experience

Book Illustration by Rubens

During the first quarter of the 19th century, the situation of the Moretuses deteriorated.  Unable to come to terms with the modernization of printing, development of mechanical and rotary presses; Edward Moretus (1804-1880) was to be the last of the printer/publishers of the family; in 1866 the final book is produced, Horae diurnae S. Francisi, and Edward was forced to cease printing.  He became the curator of the family patrimony and a collector.  In 1873, he negotiated the sale of the property with all the contents to the Belgian state and City of Antwerp.

Printing Art, Plantin Moretus Museum, Museum Monday, social media, virtual tour, museum experience

Printing Art

Museum Staff, 1902, Museum Monday, Plantin Moretus Museum, social media, virtual tour, museum experience

Museum Staff, 1902

Illustration of Omega Symbol, Plantin Moretus Museum, Museum Monday, social media, virtual tour, museum experience.

Illustration of Omega Symbol

Thank you for joining me on Museum Monday at the Plantin Moretus Museum.  Next week I plan a review of the Chazen Museum exhibition, Offering of the Angels: Paintings and Tapestries from the Uffizi Gallery, which may be the closest I get to this storied place for the next few years.  I look forward to chatting with you about other museums you enjoy!

Cheers,
MJ

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Jethro Tull Responsible for the Ban of Rock Music on Museum Monday

By Mary Jo Gibson

September 10, 2012

Way up in the mountains, above Denver, Colorado, lies the greatest scenery you could imagine.  The rocks jutting from the landscape, fabulous views overlooking the city of Denver, majestic mountains fill the horizon.  Red Rocks holds a special secret above the tourist enclave, where great pictures can be taken, but only a hint of what lies ahead, further up the mountain.  Navigating through a special viaduct in the rock walls and climbing further will bring you to the greatest natural amphitheater, set against the mountain wall.  A storied place with a history of its own.

Who built this?

The vision of Red Rocks began with John Brisben Walker in the early 1900s.  He produced a number of concerts on a temporary stage between 1906 and 1910.  The city of Denver purchased the area in 1928, employing architect Burnham Hoyt to design the venue.  Enlisting the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Work Projects Administration (WPA), labor and materials were provided by the venue.  Construction began in 1936, and completed in 1941.

Red Rocks in Rock History

The earliest notable rock performance was by the Beatles on August 26, 1964, the only concert not sold out during their US tour.  Jimi Hendrix performed in 1968, and U2 recorded two songs from their album Under a Blood Red Sky in 1983.  The Grateful Dead favored the venue with many performances, and Widespread Panic holds the record for the most sold out performances at Red Rocks, 35 and counting.

An incident in 1971 during a performance by Jethro Tull led to a five year ban of rock concerts at Red Rocks.  Approximately 1,000 people without tickets arrived at the sold out show.  Denver police directed the overflow, non paying crowd to an area behind the theater, where they could hear the music but not see the band.  The situation solved, right?  A group of people without tickets decided to charge the police line and broke through, then began lobbing rocks at the police.  The authorities responded with tear gas at the gate crashers.  The wind carried the tear gas over the hill into the paying crowd and onto the stage.  Following the ‘riot at Red Rocks’ the mayor of Denver banned rock concerts from the amphitheater.    The ban on rock and roll was finally lifted after five years through legal action by a promoter who tried to book the band America at the venue in 1975.  Bands were again welcomed beginning in 1976, and Jethro Tull did return in 2008 and 2011, inciting no further riots.

Red Rocks shares its treasures with visitors at their own museum of rock history.  An interactive wall of rock lists all the performances in chronological order, including kiosks with video clips of artists’ appearances.  Many instruments and other memorabilia line the walls; guitars from James Taylor, Stevie Nicks, appearance posters with art not seen since the 1970s.

One particular place at Red Rocks is unique, but not on the typical tour.  It is the Wall of Fame, autographed by the artists over the years.  The steps lead to the Front of the House mix position.  The walls on either side of the staircase are covered with signatures too.  This used to be part of the Red Rocks interactive site, but they have removed it.  I certainly hope they have documented the signatures over the years, it would make a great addition to their museum.

 

If you think of Red Rocks as just a beautiful park above the city of Denver, think again!  The only naturally occurring acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world is a worthwhile stop on a mountain trek.

I hope you enjoyed a virtual tour of Red Rocks and the history behind this natural phenomenon.  A great spoof of the Red Rocks dancing security man can be found here.  Look for another History of Rock entry when I tour Rick’s Picks at the Burpee Museum, featuring the rock history of Rick Nielsen, guitarist of hometown band, Cheap Trick.  I am excited to incorporate this new addition to my blog, and hope you enjoy it too!  After all, I am still a rocker chick at heart.

Cheers!

MJ

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