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Museum

Visit a museum in Strasbourg: the Musée de l’Œuvre Notre Dame

One of the only museums in Europe entirely dedicated to medieval and Renaissance art.

The Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame can be found on place du Château, practically at the foot of Strasbourg Cathedral. Not only is the museum devoted to the construction of the famous cathedral, it also covers seven centuries of art in Strasbourg upper Rhine region (Alsace, Baden, northwestern Switzerland, and the Palatinate), from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. The collections showcase the prestigious history of Strasbourg, which from the 13th to the 16th century was one of the main artistic hubs of the Holy Roman Empire.

The museum is located in a series of Gothic and Renaissance-style gabled houses, dating back to the same period as the pieces on show. The Maison de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame is also home to the head office of the Fondation de l’Œuvre Notre Dame (the Notre Dame Workshop Foundation). This institution was created in the early 13th century and is responsible for the upkeep, conservation, and restoration of Strasbourg Cathedral. The Foundation has been listed on UNESCO’s register for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage since December 2020.

The chronological layout shows a great diversity, alternating between medieval statues from the cathedral, sculptures (by Nicolas de Leyde), paintings (by Konrad Witz, Hans Baldung Grien, and Sébastien Stoskopff), stained-glass windows, altarpieces, tapestries, architectural drawings, gold- and silversmithery, and furniture, from the Romanesque period until 1681.

The tempo of the exhibit is perfectly balanced between the different rooms, the courtyard, and the Gothic garden (containing a vast array of aromatic herbs and medicinal plants, in keeping with the medieval garden tradition). The structure and architecture of the houses that make up the museum (spiral staircases, vaults, and archways) create the ideal backdrop for the collections. The façade of the cathedral, which you can spot several times as you wander around the museum, constitutes an anchor point for the visit, materializing the many centuries of history this remarkable work of art has seen.

Musée de l’Œuvre Notre Dame
📍 3 place du Château, Strasbourg

Categories
Museum

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