Ways to discover the collection
Books were not just a simple everyday commodity in the Middle Ages. They were made by hand, the texts written out in fair copy on parchment, and, depending on their designated use, picturesquely embellished with costly paints and gold and then bound with sumptuous book covers that were studded with ivory carvings and gemstones. This transformed the books used for divine services into treasured objects. These included books of the Gospels with the complete Gospel texts, evangelistaries that contained those sections of the Gospels read during Mass arranged in the order of the church year, psalters as well as antiphonaries, the liturgical hymn books. Books of hours for private devotion were also lavishly illustrated. Books were ornamented with embellished historiated initials, initial letters spanning several lines that began sections or chapters, borders of plants, arabesques and various renderings of animals and miniatures, actual pictures of scenic images filled with figures.
For reasons of conservation, works of book illumination are not included in the permanent exhibition.
Evangelistary and Ordo missae
Cologne, 2nd quarter of 12th cent., binding: Cologne, 1st quarter of 14th cent.