Württemberg State MuseumExperience it your way!
The Württemberg State Museum welcomes some 300,000 visitors annually. A good 150 years after its foundation, the museum looks after over a million objects and thus preserves essential facets of the region’s cultural heritage from its early beginnings to the present. Collections of the highest quality in archaeology, art and cultural history as well as everyday and popular culture make it one of the most important institutions in the national and international museum landscape. The museum maintains interdisciplinary connections with institutions worldwide in the context of scientific research projects. It also has one of the largest workshops in the country for the conservation and restoration of valuable art and cultural objects.
Over 150 years:the Württemberg State Museum
In 1862, King Wilhelm I of Württemberg established the “Royal State Collection of Patriotic Art and Ancient Monuments”, predecessor institution of today’s Württemberg State Museum.
The aim formulated in the founding proposal of 16 June 1862 was to create a collection that would “consist of industrial and artistic objects and extend to all periods of homeland history and all stages of cultural and historical development”. This type of central collection on the history of Württemberg in the capital Stuttgart was considered necessary so that the “objects would thus be more easily accessible to the general public”.
The new collection was to be “as open as possible (...) for public viewing” in order to “promote knowledge of the history, especially the cultural history, of our fatherland”. It would not only be of interest to local residents, but would also “provide an object of attraction for foreigners visiting Stuttgart”.
Separated and reunited
The holdings were continuously expanded in the decades that followed. Even before the turn of the century, the museum took over the collections of Württembergischer Altertumsverein, an archaeological association founded in 1841. The museum’s collections were initially displayed at the Royal State Library – built in 1886 but later destroyed during the Second World War – in Neckarstrasse, today’s Konrad-Adenauer-Strasse.
But after the First World War, the museum’s holdings were moved out of the library. The art and cultural history collections were moved to the “Neues Schloss”, the New Palace, and were given the name “Palace Museum”, while the archaeological holdings were put on display in the “Altes Schloss”, the Old Castle. It was not until the years after World War II that the prehistoric and early history collections were combined with the holdings of the “Palace Museum” to form a single institution.
In the Old Castle
This new institution was given the name “Württembergisches Landesmuseum” and found its home in the Old Castle, in the very heart of Stuttgart. Although the building had been badly damaged during the war, the new State Museum was able to present its first exhibition as early as 1949. However, complete reconstruction took a quarter of a century: it was not until 1971 that all parts of the building were reopened.
In recent years, the exhibitions in the Old Castle have been reorganized. In 2012, on the occasion of its 150th anniversary, the museum created the exhibition “LegendäreMeisterWerke” – Legendary Master Pieces –, a journey through the cultural history of Württemberg from the Ice Age to the end of the monarchy. This was followed in 2016 by a second permanent collection, “Wahre Schätze” – A Wealth of Treasures – with sections on Antiquity, the Celtic princely seats and the “Kunstkammer” of the Dukes of Württemberg.
A children’s museum was opened in the Old Castle in October 2010. The “Junges Schloss”, or Young Castle, invites children from the age of four and their families to actively discover, learn and create while providing information on cultural-historical topics through interactive presentations and temporary exhibitions.
Branch museums and related institutions
Waldenbuch Castle houses the Museum of Popular Culture, the largest museum of everyday and popular culture in the German-speaking world. The everyday objects it exhibits provide surprising insights into culture and society and at the same time raises questions about things that we otherwise seem to take for granted.
Moreover, parts of the State Museum collections are displayed in several branch museums around Württemberg: the collection of medieval sacred art at the Dominican Museum in Rottweil, the Museum of Coaches, Carriages and Carts at Hellenstein Castle, the Fashion Museum and the Ceramics Museum at Ludwigsburg Palace, and the German Playing Card Museum in Leinfelden-Echterdingen.
The Baden-Württemberg State Office for Museum Services and the State Office for Popular Culture in Württemberg are also affiliated to the museum.