Discover the First Ever Illustrated Children’s Encyclopedia From 18th Century at Croatian School Museum

Croatian School Museum is celebrating its 115th year of existence with a celebratory and rare exhibition of Friedrich Justin Bertuch‘s famous Children’s Illustrated Encyclopedia, considered to be the first of its kind. Bertuch, an employee of the Weimar court, is best known as a patron of the arts that co-founded Weimar Princely Free Drawing School with Georg Melchior Kraus, holding the ideas that art and the study of it should be accessible to everyone, no matter their social status. The school attracted famous painters as teachers, including artists like Goethe, Schiller and Herder.

The children’s encyclopedia was created between 1790 and 1830, at the peak of Weimar’s cultural ‘renaissance’, then considered to be the cultural capital of Europe, in no small part due to the artists Bertuch has worked with. Croatian School Museum holds the only original copy in the country, with 12 volumes, 1185 pages and 6000 original illustrations that try and depict the complexity of the world to children. It was originally printed in 3000 copies.

Croatian School Museum was founded in 1901 as part of an effort to systematically gather, study and exhibit forms and methods of education from the past and present. It was given the copy of encyclopedia in the year of its founding by Andrija Filkovic, a local teacher from Rakovac.

The exhibition is a great and valuable insight into the first steps of mass elementary education and methods used to teach people about the world. It is because of people like Bertuch, one of many, that today we know how to write and read, and explore our childlike wonderment of the world.

The exhibition titled Bertuch’si illustrative empire- secrets of the Children’s Encyclopedia opens 7 pm on Monday, March 7th, at Croatian School Museum, Marshal Tito square 4.