A facsimile edition is a faithful copy of a unique original, usually a manuscript. In both technological and artistic terms, it is a perfect replica of an existing work, capturing every detail of the original model – from the precise gradation of pigment shades to the tonal values of gold and silver gilding. In order to meet the stringent requirements of researchers and bibliophiles, facsimile editions must provide an entirely satisfactory substitute for the original. Facsimiles are published in strictly limited numbers, which ensures that collectors have the opportunity to examine and assess the esthetic and monetary value of each individual copy of the edition of interest. While a facsimile edition of a manuscript safeguards an element of our cultural heritage, it can only fulfill its purpose if it also elucidates the nature and context of the original work. This explains why comprehensive commentaries are an integral component of every facsimile edition. As the Austrian manuscript specialist Otto Mazal once wrote, by bringing together in one place reproductions of original works that are dispersed around the globe, a collection of facsimiles can serve as a "musée imaginaire".
The exhibition "Le Musée Imaginaire" is devoted to facsimiles of medieval manuscripts, and presents a representative selection of facsimiles of original manuscripts drawn from the extensive collection of old books held in the University Library. The facsimiles chosen for the exhibition are displayed in 12 cabinets in the Library’s Lending Room.
Please note that visitors to the exhibition must abide by the hygiene measures currently in force (e.g. observe social distancing rules and wear an FFP2 mask).