Friday, May 23, 2014

The Gutenberg Museum

 Down in the old part of Mainz, is the Gutenberg Museum.  It's right across from the Mainz Cathedral. For a trip?  It'll cost five Euro to enter, and is an interesting collection of printing history.

I wouldn't suggest dragging some six-year old kids to it.....but maybe kids in the fourteen and over group might get something out of it.

On the history of Gutenberg?  Well.....he was a Mainz resident who was born in 1495, and around 1539....the combination blacksmith/goldsmith and eventual printer came to this idea of pressing metal against paper to 'print' something.

What he opens a pandoras box.  Up until this idea was commercialized.....was that all books (in particular the Bible).....were hand-written.  At this point, a guy could put the press work up and print copies of the Bible, and sell them outside of the Catholic Church monopoly system.

At the time.....few today realize that....all Bibles were heavily controlled and were all in Latin.  Since only the trained or educated Catholic Church 'players' had use of Latin.....they were controlling the verbiage and sermon content.

What Gutenberg then a translated capability....with Bibles in German, French and English.  A merchant, with a fair amount of money.....simply buys it and can read it in his own language.  At that point, it opens up an entire new way of interpreting the Bible and it's values.  You can look around from 1550 to 1650, and note various wars and conflicts underway....strictly over the religious views of people, and the light that Gutenberg's printing press allowed.

One of the things you will notice from the contents of the museum are the church hymn books.  From this period on.....people could write various verses for songs, and it could be bulk-produced and created a totally new environment for the musical side of life.

The Age of Enlightenment?  It only comes....because of Gutenberg's printing press.  Once you can create knowledge, publish it, mass distribute have not just hundreds who get the 'message'.....but literally tens of thousands.

You can look back today, and truthfully say that Gutenberg's simple idea....radically changed society and took the Catholic Church down several notches.  The Mayflower's occupants?  They would never have been so radicalized....if they hadn't had the Bibles in English or been able to debate standard religious doctrine.

So, if you happen to be in Mainz....the museum is worth visiting.  Note, you are better off using the train and bus system to get over to the area (parking just isn't that plentiful).  There's also a dozen-odd things to see in the old city of Mainz and you might as well plan for an entire day (with plenty of good food).  The museum itself?  Figure you need 2.5 hours max.  Note, it's closed on Mondays.  

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