The centerpiece of the exhibition is the famous Gutenberg Bible from the collection of the Russian State Library, the first large-format printed book. All in all, the exhibition features over a hundred early printed books and manuscripts from the collections of the State Hermitage and the Russian State Library.
Sections of the exhibition focus on the emergence of new literature designed to capture the reader's interest: books in national languages, dictionaries and textbooks, novels and popular literature for reading - Aesop's fables, the novel about Alexander the Great, Boccaccio's On Famous Women. During this era the first guidebooks are created, such as Bernhard von Breidenbach's Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Herbariums with descriptions of plants, animals, and minerals and with recommendations for their use for medicinal purposes were extremely popular. Professional specialized publications included books on astronomy, among them the sumptuous Imperial Astronomy by Peter Apian, on architecture the works of Vitruvius, Sebastiano Serlio and Andrea Palladio, and on military affairs. The influence of the printed press on the course of historical events is clearly demonstrated by the example of the Reformation. Shown in the exhibition are early German translations of the Bible; Luther's editions of the Bible, including those autographed by Luther and Melanchthon himself; Luther's pamphlets; polemical and propaganda literature; "visual propaganda", for example the "Acts of Christ and Antichrist", a full-page illustrated book published in close cooperation between Luther, Melanchthon and Lucas Cranach the Elder. These editions testify to the intensity of the passions of that pivotal era.