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NLL guest exhibition at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp

From 25 May to 28 June 2023, a National Library of Latvia (NLL) guest exhibition – The Essence of a Typographer. Niclaes Mollijns: Rīga-Antwerp – will be displayed at the Museum Plantin-Moretus in Antwerp, Belgium.

Photo: Ilze Goldšteina

The arrival of Niclaes Mollijns, an apprentice of eminent European printer Christoph Plantin, in Rīga in 1588 heralded the start of a long-awaited printing business, not only in Rīga, but in the whole of Livonia.

For the first time, Mollijns' legacy in Antwerp and Rīga is explored as a whole, displaying a selection of his works from the collections of the National Library of Latvia and the Museum Plantin-Moretus.

Mollijns retained the distinctive style he created in Antwerp throughout his work in Rīga, reusing his favourite arabesque, Gothic initial and vignette motifs. The exhibition at the Museum Plantin-Moretus becomes a homecoming of sorts, as the life story of Rīga’s first printer is told in the historic printing office where he learned his craft.

The author of the exhibition content is Beāte Orlova, collections expert at the NLL Lettonica and Baltic Centre, the design was created by Madara Lesīte-Volmane, and Ineta Vaivode managed the project.

The Essence of a Typographer. Niclaes Mollijns: Rīga-Antwerp exhibition is one of the NLL-initiated events in the 500 years of Latvian Books series, which highlights the importance of the printed and written word and views the history of Latvian book publishing as an integral part of Western European culture. The central theme of this year’s series is The Dissemination of Texts Past and Present (Publishers), and Niclaes Mollijns is one of the key personalities of 500 years of Latvian Books in 2023.

The holding of an international exhibition at the Museum Plantin-Moretus is a unique event that offers the opportunity to exhibit items from Latvia's publishing history in one of Europe’s most renowned printing museums. The Museum Plantin-Moretus, which features a 16th century printing house, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Essence of a Typographer exhibition will be on view in Antwerp until 28 June 2023. In turn, Mollijns' printed oeuvre will be on display in Rīga later this year, when the NLL will open an exhibition on the history of book design, which will continue the research begun in Antwerp and highlight Rīga's links with 16th-century Western European book design trends.

The exhibition is part of the 500 years of Latvian Books series and was made possible with support from the Latvian Ministry of Culture, the State Culture Capital Foundation and Rīga City Council. Special thanks to the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia to the Kingdom of Belgium for their support.

More information:

Ineta Vaivode

Project Manager

National Library of Latvia

Phone: +371 29978329

Nadia De Vree

Press communication for Culture, Stad Antwerpen

Phone: +324 75367196


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