Bjerkaker LearningLab, together with the Maihaugen Museum in Lillehammer, invites you to participate to the opening of an exhibition organized within the international project entitled “FRAGMED – A Transylvanian puzzle. Reconstructing medieval culture from manuscript fragments” developed in partnership with the Romanian Academy, Cluj-Napoca Branch (Romania) and with the National Union Museum, Alba-Iulia (Romania). The theme of the exhibition resides in the recovery, through restoration, of 21 fragments of medieval manuscripts discovered in 2018 in the old book storage units of the Romanian Academy Library, Cluj-Napoca Branch.

Due to massive deterioration   along modernity, very few of the medieval book collections from Eastern Europe and especially from Transylvania (Romania) have remained accessible to this day. A large part of these manuscripts – through which an entire history of the medieval European circuit of books may be redeemed, and also the main collections of such medieval pieces from the Transylvanian region may be recovered – can be found at the Library of the Romanian Academy, Cluj-Napoca Branch. Manuscript fragments, i.e. parts of books or book pages from medieval book collections, are invaluable sources of knowledge about the history of the book, the history of crafts and the history of religion. Most fragments of medieval manuscripts are written on parchment. This material, used as a support for these old manuscripts, is a cleaned, purified and dried animal skin, very suitable and extremely used throughout the medieval period, all over Europe, for the most important writings. Some of the medieval parchments were reused for binding books and manuscripts in the XVIth and XVIIth Centuries.

The project “FRAGMED – A Transylvanian puzzle: reconstructing medieval culture from manuscript fragments ” assumed, through international cooperation (Norway-Romania), a joint action to safeguard some of these medieval manuscripts relevant to European history through complex interventions of restoration, digitization, of including these items in the National Heritage of Romania and of exhibiting them to the large public. In between 2020–2022, within the project, 21 such documents were restored, described, digitized and uploaded to the Swiss platform Fragmentarium

The exhibition to be opened in the Maihaugen Museum insures these manuscript fragments from Romania international visibility, in order to draw attention to the need for saving and preserving such objects of European relevance. The main exhibition, which contains also the restored manuscripts, was already opened in February 2022, in Cluj-Napoca. Maihaugen Museum exhibits a smaller, travelling version of the in situ exhibition and includes exhibition panels, two documentary films on the history of the manuscripts and the restoration process, digitized examples of manuscript fragments and books or photos of the restoration work, as well as a multimedia installation explaining the history of each manuscript. The exhibition panels explain, through texts and images, the relevance of the fragments for the local and European history, offer examples of related books and manuscripts and depict the restoration work that took place.

The exhibition at the Maihaugen Museum also shows how a(n) (animal) skin is stretched to become a parchment and, thereafter, a possible support for handwriting. The parchment is made of goatskin and is produced by the ULU workshop of the Sofie Kleppe tannery in Vågå. In addition to leading ULU, Kleppe is a researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Crafts, Lillehammer. In the Impulser collection which can also be found in the Maihaugen Museum, similar manuscripts can be seen, i.e. letters written on parchment, the oldest of which dates from 1330.

The opening of this travelling exhibition of these restored medieval manuscripts also marks the beginning of the final stage of the implementation of the project entitled ”FRAGMED – A Transylvanian puzzle: reconstructing medieval culture from manuscript fragments” through which the partners benefit, for a period of 32 months, from a funding non-refundable from the EEA Grants 2014-2021 in the amount of 128,775.57 Euro.

The project is financed with the support of EEA Grants 2014 – 2021 within the RO-CULTURE Programme. Arts Council Norway is the program operator for the Ro-Culture program. Bjerkaker LearningLab is the Norwegian partner and Maihaugen Museum hosted the exhibition.

In parallel with the on-site exhibition, between January 2022 and August 2022, the preparatory stages of the exhibition’s opening in Norway were carried out, through collaboration between the Romanian Academy, Cluj-Napoca Branch and Bjerkaker LearningLab. The partner institution Bjerkaker LearningLab assumed all the necessary preparatory stages in order to organize, in Norway, the opening of this traveling exhibition.

The exhibition’s opening event will take place on Wednesday, August 24, 2022 at 15:00. Sturla Bjerkaker, the Norwegian project coordinator, Kristina Skåden, Maihaugen Museum’s exhibition curator and Kjell Mariul Mathiesen, Head of Department at Lillehammer Museum are invited to speak at the opening.

The public is expected to visit the exhibition starting on August 25, 2022, from Tuesday to Friday, between 11.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, between 11.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m., in compliance with all current health regulations. Entry is free.

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