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Visit a museum in Strasbourg: the Historical Museum

An educational journey through the history of Strasbourg.

Located in the middle of Strasbourg’s old town, only a stone’s throw from the Cathedral and the Palais Rohan, the Historical Museum tells visitors the history of Strasbourg – from the Middle Ages to the end of WWII and the founding of the European institutions. 

The building that houses the museum’s collections today was built for the city’s butchers in 1588. Between 1987 and 2007 the museum was closed to the public, before undergoing full renovations and refurbishments, in keeping with a more modern museography. 

A dynamic and interactive exhibit allows visitors to gain a better understanding of Strasbourg’s past, as a city that lies at the border of several cultures and the junction of many travelling routes. It illustrates the rich history of Strasbourg (trade, inventions, local crafts, conflicts, democracy…) as well as its evolution (esthetic, architectural, linguistic, and cultural).

Visitors are taken from room to room in chronological order, but the collections are also organized by theme. This way, you can learn about trade and guilds, 15th and 16th-century weapons and armors, Strasbourg’s relations with neighboring towns, the evolution of the city’s nationality (back and forth between French and German), artisan crafts and local bourgeoisie, rules and restrictions for dressing according to one’s social class, the birth of the printing press (Gutenberg), Humanism (Erasmus) and the Reformation, the annexation of Strasbourg by Louis XIV, the “Marseillaise” written by Rouget de Lisle in Strasbourg, Kléber and the French Revolutionary Wars, the golden age of the University of Strasbourg (chemistry, medicine, zoology), WWI and WWII… All the traditions and events that have helped shape the city’s unique identity through the ages.

Upstairs, do as we did and take some time to observe the detail of the massive scale model of the city as it was in 1727 – which shows all the changes made to the fortifications after Vauban – and try to locate the museum building (The city is represented at 1:600, and the Cathedral at 1:500)

Particular care has been taken with the museography and interactive presentations, to “look at the city with fresh eyes”. Each historical period is color coded (green for Antiquity, red for the Middle Ages, blue for modern times…). The explanations are educational and in three languages (French, English, and German), complemented by touch-screen tablets. The presentation of the museum collection has been conceived almost as a stage setting. The museography offers a sensory journey through the ages, where visitors are encouraged to touch, draw, interact with the exhibit, to try on hats or costume accessories (like the bicorn hat of “la Belle Strasbourgeoise”, whose portrait by Nicolas de Largillière hangs in Strasbourg’s Museum of Fine Arts). 

The combination of the items on display, the paintings, explanations, and most importantly the museum’s interactive and digital approach (interactive screens, QR codes…) lets each visitor customize their own experience.

The Historical Museum of the City of Strasbourg
📍 2 rue du Vieux Marché aux Poissons, Strasbourg

6 replies on “Visit a museum in Strasbourg: the Historical Museum”

Thank you for this- it’s been on my mind to make an effort to return. I brought my girls here 8 years ago when they were 3&5 years old and I probably didn’t get the full benefit of the experience, even though I enjoyed it much more than the Alsacienne Museum. Definitely need to get back there soon.

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