The oldest museum in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has been breathing life into the history and heritage of the Hanseatic City of Stralsund and its environs since 1858 – whether at the Museum’s main site in the former Dominican Abbey of St Catherine or at its auxiliary locations, the Marine Museum and Historic House Museum.
St Catherine’s Monastery
The largest monastic complex on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea unites medieval architecture with the treasures of centuries past. It was Jaromar II, Prince of Rügen, who donated the land and funded the abbey’s construction. The first written record of the Dominican monastery dates to 1251. During the Reformation, the monastery became property of the municipality. Since 1924, these hallowed halls have been home to exhibitions about Stralsund’s history. The focus of the museum lies on the Middle Ages. Exhibits of Gothic altars and sculptures pay homage to the master craftsmanship of the era. Archaeological finds and historical objects illustrate the life of Hanseatic merchants. Other highlights of the collections include ecclesiastical textiles from the Middle Ages and a valuable Venetian drinking glass.
Historic House Museum – Mönchstraße 38
The largest exhibit of the STRALSUND MUSEUM is the former chandler’s house located at Mönchstraße 38. The building was restored by the German Foundation for Monument Protection (Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz). Six hundred years of history come alive within its mediaeval walls. The stone floor dates back to the house’s construction in the 14th century. The oldest structures can be found in the cellar and in the top storage hall. The still functioning Gothic elevator wheel in the attic is one of the oldest of its kind in Northern Europe. However, the most fascinating features of the Historic House Museum are the traces that remain of its former occupants.
Marine Museum – on the Island of Dänholm
An expansive, open-air exhibition awaits museum visitors in Dänholm’s star-shaped fort, the “Sternschanze”. The island boasts an eventful history as the birthplace of the Prussian Navy. Visitors who tour the exhibitions in the former barracks can learn about Dänholm’s military history and the role the small island played for Stralsund in its days as a fortress and garrison town. The public collection includes a selection of pictures, charts, documents, uniforms, weapons, flags, equipment and models. A highlight of the outdoor area is a original naval helicopter.
Viking Gold Treasures
The construction of Stralsund’s first museum began in 1858. The “Provincial Museum for New Western Pomerania and Rügen” was opened one year later. The driving force and first director of the museum was Dr Rudolph Baier. Dr. Baier amassed an extensive collection of objects from pre- and protohistoric times, and acquired the legendary gold treasure of Hiddensee for the museum.
The treasure consists of 16 pieces of jewellery made of pure gold with a total weight of 598.20 grams. It represents an excellent example of Viking goldsmithery and is attributed to the Viking King Harald “Bluetooth” Gormsson.
The museum’s collection includes yet another relic from the Viking Age: the gold treasure of Peenemünde, which was found between 1905 and 1908.
In December 2015, the original pieces of the famous Viking gold treasures will be displayed as part of the Museum’s permanent exhibition.
The Löwen Collection
Stralsund belonged to the Kingdom of Sweden for almost 200 years. Axel von Löwen, a Swedish governor general responsible for the region, bequeathed his valuable collection of objets d’art, nautical and astronomical instruments, weapons and books to the people of Stralsund in 1761. This treasure can still be found in the Museum’s collection, and includes a family register with entries from Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler, as well as a rare pair of globes.
A Collection of Rarities
At the Museum’s location in St Catherine’s monastery, visitors can admire Stralsund faiences manufactured locally after 1755, as well as playing cards from the playing card company Vereinigte Stralsunder Spielkartenfabriken, furniture from various periods, guild objects and relics of local coin history. There are also exhibits commemorating the Hussar officer and Freikorps commander Ferdinand von Schill as well as his contemporaries, the poet Ernst Moritz Arndt and the chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele.
The STRALSUND MUSEUM has an extensive collection of paintings and graphic works, complemented by sculptures and photographs. The collection focuses on the work of regional artists. The estates of several artists, such as Heinrich Lietz, Theodor Schultze-Jasmer and Elisabeth Büchsel, have been donated to the museum.
Among the valuable works is a small oil painting by Caspar David Friedrich entitled “Elblandschaft” (“Elbe Landscape”). Art lovers will be delighted by the works of Philipp Otto Runge and Jan Davidsz de Heem.
The Museum organises special exhibitions on a regular basis to help make these works accessible to the public.
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