Figge Art Museum Unveils Centuries-Old Manuscripts in 'Illumination' Exhibit
May 14, 2024


Figge Art Museum Unveils Centuries-Old Manuscripts in 'Illumination' Exhibit

Davenport, Iowa (May 14, 2024) —Some of the oldest works in the Figge Art Museum’s collection will be on view for the first time in decades beginning Saturday, May 18.

The Figge has a small but impressive collection of medieval and early Renaissance manuscripts from Europe, the Middle East and India that date back to the 15th and 16th Century. A selection of 12 of these works will be on view in the second-floor Lewis Gallery.

Illumination: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts includes handwritten and meticulously painted book pages created with pigments sourced from semi-precious materials like lapis lazuli and malachite and highlighted with gold leaf and silverpoint. The decorations in the margins of these books include beautifully intricate paintings that illustrate the typography written on the page. 

“In today’s terms, these manuscripts are the Ferrari of the Medieval world,” said Senior Co-Curator Joshua Johnson. “They were crafted by hand and were very expensive to produce since it was before the creation of the printing press.”

Some of the works on view include musical notations for Gregorian chants, a page from a Benedictine Psalter, and several examples of pages from different books of hours as well as illustrations of Indian battle scenes. The text on these pages includes inscriptions in Latin, Devanagari script and Arabic. 

Translations for the pages will accompany the label information. Additionally, guests can enrich their visit with an audio tour featuring recordings of the songs depicted in the musical notations.

Illumination: Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts will be on view through August 11, 2024.

About the Figge Art Museum:
The Figge Art Museum is dedicated to bringing art and people together. Located on the Mississippi River in downtown Davenport at 225 West Second Street, the Figge is the premier art exhibition and education facility between Chicago and Des Moines. Its landmark glass building, designed by British architect David Chipperfield, is home to one of the Midwest’s finest art collections and presents world-class exhibitions, art classes, lectures and special events that attract visitors of all ages. Museum hours are 10 a.m.­­-5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Thursdays; and 12-5 p.m. on Sundays. Reservations are not required but can be made at or by calling 563-345-6632. Admission to the museum is $14 for adults, $10 for seniors and students with ID and $8 children ages 4-12. Admission is free to children under 4, Figge members, institutional members and to all on Thursday evenings. You can become a member for as little as $50 by visiting the Figge website. To contact the museum, please call 563.326.7804, or visit


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225 West Second Street
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