Current Exhibits

A selection of our current exhibits

  • Mary of Burgundy’s prayer nut

    Prayer nuts are nut-shaped, carved capsules which open into two halves. They were mainly used from the late 15th century until the mid-16th century as pendants on rosaries or necklaces. The German term ‘Betnuss’ or ‘pray nut’ dates from the late 19th century and is probably a literal translation of the French term ‘noix de prière’.

    The precious carvings are thought to have originated in Flanders. As this prayer nut is thought to.

    It belonged to Mary of Burgundy, daughter of Charles the Bold and wife of Emperor Maximilian I and is extremely valuable. There are only a few examples like this left in the world. Although the rare art chamber object is only a few centimetres tall, its outer shell makes quite an impression with its lacework carving, as befitting the tastes and style of the Gothic Period. Inside are two significant scenes, delicately reproduced.

    If you open the nut, one half shows a carved picture of John the Evangelist with St. Catherine and her sword, along with St. Barbara.

    In the background on the right you can make out the tower in which St. Barbara is supposed to have been locked away by her father to prevent her from converting to Christianity. The tower has three windows, a symbol of the Holy Trinity.

    As patron saint of miners, St. Barbara is important in Leogang. A tunnel was named after her and December 4, St. Barbara’s Day, was a main feast day for the miners here.

    The second half of the prayer nut shows Mary of Burgundy with her husband Emperor Maximilian and St. George.

  • Georgius Agricola

    Georgius Agricola (Latin for ‘Georg Bauer’) was a German doctor, pharmacist and scientist who is regarded as the ‘father of minerology’ and founder of modern geology and mining engineering. His main work De re metallica libri XII, ‘12 books on mining’, appeared for the first time in Latin in 1556, a year after his death, in Basel.

    Agricola’s work is the result of his travels through the mining regions of the Saxon and Bohemian Ore Mountains and demonstrates a systematic, technological investigation of mining and trade associations. Decorated with woodcuts, the entire mining knowledge of the day was compiled by the author, who in doing so became the founder of mountain scholarship. For two hundred years, Agricola’s books remained the decisive work on the subject.

    Later, the famous mining book was translated into many different languages. Philippus Bechius (1521-1560), a friend of Agricola and a professor at the University of Basel, translated the manuscript into German and published it in 1557 under the title Vom Bergkwerck XII Bücher.

    The cabinet of mountain curiosities at the Leogang Mining and Gothic Museum has three different editions of the famous work on display: the second Latin edition from 1561, the second German edition from 1580 and the first English edition from 1912, also called De re metallica.

    The first English translation was published by Herbert Clark and Lou Henry Hoover, a married couple, who added commentary and footnotes. Herbert Clark Hoover was not only a trained mining engineer and successful entrepreneur, but the 31st president of the United States of America from 1929 to 1933.

    The three editions of Georgius Agricola’s work on show at the Mining and Gothic Museum come from Achim and Beate Middelschulte’s famous private collection of mountain art in Essen.

  • Lion Madonna

    Madonnas standing or enthroned upon a lion are very rare. The first of these sculptures probably date back to the early period of Emperor Charles IV in the first half of the 14th century.

    The sculpture on display at the Leogang Mining and Gothic Museum is one of an exclusive circle of Salzburg Lion Madonnas, to which only six others in the world belong. One is in Bachschmiede in Wals near Salzburg, two are at the Bavarian National Museum in Munich, one is in private ownership in Hamburg, one is in Berlin’s Bode Museum and the sixth can be found at the Louvre in Paris.

    The Lion Madonna at the Leogang Mining and Gothic Museum was created around 1370 in pine wood. The description of the Lion Madonna is basically consistent with the older Lion Madonna in the Bavarian National Museum. With her crown and the now-missing sceptre in her left hand, she represented the Queen of Heaven. The falling veil, which seems to be buttoned over her chest, only covers the crown of her head, the curls on either side of her face remaining exposed.

    An archaic smile lightens up her face and that of the Infant Jesus. She stands in a distinctive S-pose. The Infant Jesus, wrapped in swaddling, sits facing front on his mother’s right arm.

    The lion is cowering on the low base plate. His jaw is open without baring his teeth and he has a thick, stylised mane and his tail between his legs. Originally the Infant Jesus, whose arms have survived as mere stumps, was presumably touching his right ear, demonstrating that he is listening to the roar of the lion beneath him, the symbol of the resurrection.

    Mary is standing with both feet on the lion. The central part of the drapery or arrangement of the folds of her mantle is dominated by descending concentric circles.

    The blue mantle of the Mother of God ends at approximately knee height, under which a more snug red robe is visible, hanging down towards the lion’s body.

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