Reformed Museum for the 'Protestant Rome'

Article excerpt

Geneva is known around the world as the birthplace of the Calvinist Reformation, and now the Swiss city that is sometimes called the Protestant Rome has the International Museum of the Reformation for pilgrims and tourists.

The city on the banks of Lake Geneva heretofore had no institution to commemorate a period that altered the course of history in Europe and farther afield.

"The museum is a place for history, but above all history that is alive," says the museum's director, Isabelle Graessle, an ordained minister.

The permanent exhibition was quietly inaugurated in mid-April--at a time when the world's news media blanketed Vatican City with daily coverage of the transition in Catholicism between popes.

The Protestant museum uses original books, manuscripts, paintings and engravings to trace the history of the Protestant movement, initiated in the city by French theologian John Calvin in the 16th century.

Alongside artifacts are state-of-the-art interactive and audio-visual displays explaining the turbulent history and ideas of Protestantism up to the present. Its Web site is www.musee-reforme.ch. Geneva today serves as the headquarters for the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Lutheran World Federation.

The museum cost 4 million Swiss francs ($3. …