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Die Welt in Leipzig. Internationale Ausstellung Leipzig. Internationale Ausstellung für Buchgewerbe und für Buchgewerbe und Graphik – Bugra 1914

Exhibition of the German Museum of Books and Writing. Exhibition opening at 19:00 on 11 March

Press release:  5.3.2014

In 2014 it is 100 years since the Internationale Ausstellung für Buchgewerbe und Graphik (Bugra) was held in Leipzig in 1914. To coincide with the Leipzig Book Fair, the German Museum of Books and Writing of the German National Library is devoting an exhibition to this, the first and last world exhibition of the book. The exhibition will take visitors on a journey of historical discovery around this event. Covering everything from the reconstruction of a Chinese scholar's house, including cricket cage and water pipes which served the scholars as sources of inspiration, or the latest technical methods for mass printing, the astute advertising campaigns for the world exhibition or the numerous traces of spent gunpowder which the two world wars left on the historical objects: the exhibition provides an unusual perspective by examining the eve of World War 1 under a magnifying glass. An historical site plan including a linked slide show of old images of the Bugra invites visitors to search for their own clues.

The Bugra was part of the 19th century tradition of staging major exhibitions. Its aim was to illustrate to a large audience the complex technical and cultural aspects associated with writing, printing and books. Spread over 400,000 of exhibition space, upon which exhibitors from 22 countries presented their products, the Bugra attracted more than 2.3 million people from Germany and abroad to Leipzig. Alongside the national pavilions showcasing the individual participant countries, further major attractions included the "Hall of Culture" and numerous theme and corporate exhibitions. A large amusement park including water slide, panorama ride and Tanagra theatre provided further diversion and entertainment. Further theme houses at the Bugra included those dedicated to Börsenverein der Deutschen Buchhändler zu Leipzig, academies, schools, women, merchants, the German colonies, the specialist press, the universal language Esperanto, the poster stamp and the Wandervogel rambling movement.

The New York Times celebrated the event in July 1914 by carrying a richly illustrated item entitled "Sixteen nations unite to tell the story of books" which described the Bugra rather grandly as the first world exhibition of its kind "since the dawn of human civilisation". However, the organisers' hopes that "characters and printing ink rather than powder and lead" would become the dominant force in international relations, and that the Bugra would help peacefully resolve the rivalries between the nations were abruptly dashed in the summer of 1914 when war broke out.

To accompany the exhibition, Ernst Fischer and Stephanie Jacobs have released a fully illustrated reader on behalf of the Maximilian-Gesellschaft für alte und neue Buchkunst. It is the first book to examine the Leipzig World Exhibition as a complete entity. Designed as a travel guide to the Bugra, the extensive 800-page volume copies the format of the Baedeker guides, the publishing house of which was also represented at the Bugra. The book can be ordered from

Die Welt in Leipzig. Internationale Ausstellung für Buchgewerbe und Graphik – Bugra 1914

Exhibition at the German Museum of Books and Writing of the German National Library in Leipzig
12 March to 24 August 2014
Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 - 18:00, Thursday 10:00 - 20:00, national holidays (except Mondays) 10:00 - 18:00 Admission is free of charge.

Exhibition opens: 19:00 on 11 March
Welcome: Michael Fernau, Director of the German National Library in Leipzig
Opening speeches: Prof. Dr. Sabine von Schorlemer, Minister of State for Science and the Arts, Dresden | Michael Faber, Mayor of Culture of the city of Leipzig
Introduction: Dr. Stephanie Jacobs, Head of the German Museum of Books and Writing
Book presentation: Prof. Dr. Ulrich Johannes Schneider, Deputy Chairperson of the Maximilian-Gesellschaft
Supporting programme: Stilbruch

Guided tours of the exhibition: 12:00 on 16 March 2014; 12:00 on 4 May 2014

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