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Calvin Jubilee

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Prepare your visit Ticketing Future event Ville de Genève, Musées d'art et d'histoire Crédits photographiques : © Musée d'art et d'histoire, Ville de Genève, photographe : Yves Siza Auteurs : Ferdinand Hodler (Berne, 14.03.1853 — Genève, 19.05.1918) Titre : L'Unanimité Datations : 1912/1913 Matières et techniques : Huile sur toile mise au carreau; Peinture Dimensions : haut.: 52.5 cm; larg.: 163 cm; Haut 52.5, larg 163 cm N° d’inventaire : 1939-0044

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Thursday, May 2, International Museum of the Reformation, 6:30pm (in French) Could Reformed Prot...

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On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin (1509-2009), the International Museum of the Reformation offered various events, alone and in partnership, over a period from March to the end of October 2009. The event A major part of these events was a temporary exhibition entitled “A Day in the Life of Calvin”.

To attract visitors from all over the world, with a very modern museographic approach, this exhibition made it possible to show for the first time a virtual interpretation of the world of the Reformation and the main occupations of Calvin. The fact of simulating the character in 3D in his settings, in his actions, made it possible, as in a documentary, to better understand his life and his actions. The temporary exhibition took place in the courtyard of the International Museum of the Reformation and in the room of the Company of Pastors, on the ground floor of Maison Mallet from April 24 to November 1, 2009.

With the help of eight pavilions (2mx2m), Calvin’s life was retraced over the course of a day, from his waking up at 4:00 a.m. to his going to bed at 9:00 p.m., including worship at Saint-Pierre, a stormy session at the Consistory or a decisive interview between Servetus and the Reformer. In each of the pavilions, we heard the voice of Calvin, his friends, his adversaries, the noises of the city and we will discover, as much as the life of the man, daily life in Geneva. We saw an animated and speaking three-dimensional Calvin, surrounded by familiar settings of the time, thanks to techniques from the laboratory of Professor Nadia Thalmann, MIRALab at the University of Geneva.

Some engravings, objects and books from the 16th century were also exhibited there. In addition to an international scientific committee, the preparation team was made up of Mr Olivier Fatio, exhibition curator, Mrs Sylvia Krenz and Mr René Schmid (Inventory), museographers, Mrs Isabelle Graesslé, director, Mesdames Françoise Demole and Béatrice Nicollier-de Weck, respectively president and member of the Foundation Board of the Museum.


The ambition of this exhibition was to bring together visitors of all ages and origins to unravel the myth of reality regarding the character of John Calvin while placing the historical facts in their time. Through this double effort of contextualization, the aim was to ease the links between Calvin and Geneva and, more broadly, with the contemporary world.

Attractive in its modernity, its honesty and its playful form, plural in its themes, astonishing in its reconstruction of an era, this exhibition made it possible to approach historical reality in a renewed way, whether for the Geneva public – of all ages – or the large international public to visit Geneva in 2009.


Other events or projects have been prepared at the Museum, in connection with the Jubilee: in particular a work on the theological thought of Calvin by Marc Vial, major conferences at Saint-Pierre around themes expected by the general public: “A the search for the true Calvin”, by Olivier Fatio, founder of the International Museum of the Reformation, Thursday March 12, 2009. “Calvin’s women, Calvin and women: between irritation and admiration”, by Isabelle Graesslé, director of the International Museum of the Reform, Thursday March 19, 2009. “Michel Servet or the quest for mideal onotheism”, by Vincent Schmid, pastor of the parish of St-Pierre Fusterie, Thursday March 26, 2009. “Was Calvin a Calvinist?”, by Bernard Cottret, historian, specialist in the Reformation and Anglo-Saxon civilizations, Thursday April 2, 2009; a children’s book published for a large number of primary schools throughout Switzerland.

The Museum was also in contact with the other organizations involved in this commemoration: in Geneva, the Protestant Church of Geneva, the Historical Museum of the Reformation, the Institute of History of the Reformation; in Switzerland, the Federation of Protestant Churches of Switzerland.

Likewise, a collaboration united the Museum with the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin, organizing an exhibition on Calvinism in Germany and Europe from March to July 2009. The University of Apeldoorn (NL) for its part has took up part of the exhibition concept, with Dutch additions.

At the Swiss and international level, this interdisciplinary work represented an unprecedented work, linking ancestral cultural heritage, avant-garde digital artistic creation and high-tech scientific know-how. No one who saw Calvin or lived in his time, other than through paintings and writings, connecting digital art, cultural heritage, engineering and history has made the International Museum of the Reformation a museum one of a kind.

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