Bible museum is first in US to show mile-long illustrated Bible

Wiedmann Bible

A recreation of Willy Wiedmann’s attic-studio in Stuttgart, Germany, displayed at the Museum of the Bible. The aluminum boxes (middle right), reference books, brushes, and mugs and containers come from Wiedmann’s studio; the work table is a replica, and the plastic, white paint containers aren’t original. Photo: Menachem Wecker.

My article “Bible museum is first in US to show mile-long illustrated Bible” appears in Religion News Service. (The Oakland Press, Mich., has also run the piece.)

Here’s the beginning:

WASHINGTON (RNS) — Going through his late father’s attic painting studio in 2013, a German banker named Martin Wiedmann was surprised to find a Bible that his father, Willy, had spent years creating. The 3,333 illustrated pages were bound as a leporello, a book that is pleated like an accordion. Fully laid out, Willy Wiedmann’s Bible stretches about a mile in length, or about 50 times the length of an unrolled Torah scroll.

Wiedmann had made the book at his combined home and art gallery in Stuttgart over 16 years, beginning in 1984, working in almost complete obscurity. “He lived away from the family. I hardly ever saw him,” said the younger Wiedmann, who lives in Zurich, of his reclusive father.

Martin Wiedmann has since devoted himself to promoting his father’s work.

On May 7, 2017, 500 volunteers held up a copy of the leporello, also called a concertina book, along the Elbe River in Magdeburg, Germany, to set a Guinness World Record for the largest such book, according to the Museum of the Bible in Washington. The museum will open a Wiedmann exhibit on Saturday (Oct. 27).

Wiedmann Bible

Some of Willy Wiedmann’s 3,333-illustrations spanning the entire bible. The German artist called his style “polycon,” a combination of the Greek poly for “many” and ikon for “picture or panel.” Photo: Menachem Wecker.

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