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Permanent exhibition

Signs - Books - Networks: From Cuneiform to Binary Code

Serving as a showcase for the German National Library, the German Museum of Books and Writing's (Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum) new permanent exhibition provides an insight into 5000 years of media history. A "world of experience" has been set up behind the enormous glass façade on the ground floor of the annex building. This area is designed to encourage exploration of earlier forms of communication, memory and writing systems, "old" book forms, recording methods and medieval book art which re-examine the historical achievement of Johannes Gutenberg, to open up "worlds of reading", to report on censorship in its different forms and to present masterpieces of modern book art. The intention is for visitors to the exhibition to actively explore the A to Z of 19th century industrialisation milestones and the rapid development of media from the start of the 20th century right up to the present day when the book has relinquished its role as the primary medium and now has to compete with radio, television and digital media.

The permanent exhibition received the "Antiquaria-Preis for Buchkultur" on 24 January 2013. In his eulogy, Hannes Hintermeier, editor of the FAZ features section, emphasised how the exhibition had succeeded in addressing a very broad topic in an academically and aesthetically faithful manner yet without losing sight of the wider audience. The jury justified its decision thus: "The judiciously chosen route from cuneiform through to digital technologies appeals to specialists and non-specialists alike and triggers an enthusiastic response."

The virtual exhibition covering 5,000 years of media history includes trenchant histories, pictures, films and sound recordings related to the 11 theme modules of the permanent "Signs - Books - Networks: From Cuneiform to Binary Code" exhibition. Alongside the thematic approach, the website also allows the content to be accessed via a timeline which links together all the key innovations, events and individuals which played a role in the development of the media. A glossary containing Twitter-length explanations of over one thousand terms provides help during virtual journeys through time. There is also a digital visitors' book for questions, opinions, suggestions. This puts visitors into direct contact with the creators of the exhibition.

Blick in die Dauerausstellung Blick in die DauerausstellungView of the permanent exhibition

Opening hours

Tuesday - Sunday 10:00 - 18:00, Thursday 10:00 - 20:00, national holidays 10:00–18:00

Permanent exhibition info sheet (PDF, 330KB, file not barrier-free) (available only in German)

Permanent exhibition topics (available only in German)

Video on permanent exhibition

Exhibition images

Further information

Last update: 10.07.2017

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Schriftbanner mit Deutscher Nationalbibliothek Leipzig, Frankfurt am Main