Over 160 years: the Württemberg State Museum

The Old Castle, inner court with equestian statue of Duke EberhardLandesmuseum Württemberg

Welcome to the Württemberg State Museum!

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.

Rundflug | LegendäreMeisterWerke | Landesmuseum Württemberg (2020)Landesmuseum Württemberg

King Wilhelm I. of Wuerttemberg (ca. 1850) by Franz Seraph StirnbrandLandesmuseum Württemberg

1862 Founding

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.

Display of the collection on the ground floor of the Royal State Library (1884/1886)Landesmuseum Württemberg

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.

The Old Castle in Stuttgart (1875-1899) by Friedrich von KellerLandesmuseum Württemberg

The Old Castle

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.

This new institution was given the name “Württembergisches Landesmuseum” and found its home in the Old Castle, in the very heart of Stuttgart.

Castle fire 1931 (1931)Landesmuseum Württemberg

Castle Fire 1931

On 21 December 1931, the Old Castle suffered its most dramatic catastrophe until then: a chimney fire got out of control and largely destroyed the Dürnitz wing with both of its towers.

Worse still: the reconstruction, which was financed by donations, was not yet completed when an air raid again caused devastating damage in 1944. Two thirds of the arcade courtyard were destroyed.

Watch an interview with Dr. Matthias Ohm, head of the Department of Art History, who tells the story of the fire.

Access to the Musem, Old Castle, after World War II (1949-1950)Landesmuseum Württemberg


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, the complete reconstruction took a quarter of a century.

Exhibition of the prehistoric era, of the Celts, Romans and Germanic peoples in the Old Castle, 1st floor, around 1956 (1956)Landesmuseum Württemberg

It was not until 1971 that all parts of the building were reopened.

Poster for the exhibition "The Staufers" 1977Landesmuseum Württemberg

First Blockbuster Exhibition 1977

In the spring of 1977, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, the Wuerttemberg State Museum in Stuttgart showed the exhibition "The Staufer Era. History  – Art – Culture".

Exhibition "The Staufers" 1977, queue if visitors (1977)Landesmuseum Württemberg

With over 670,000 visitors in just 72 days, the presentation became the first blockbuster cultural history exhibition. The premises in the Old Castle were not prepared for this onslaught, so long queues formed in front of the castle.

Renovation in the Old Castle, 2010-2012Landesmuseum Württemberg

Exhibition Redesign since 2012

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.

A Wealth of Treasures

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.

"Kunstkammer" of the Dukes

Antiquity section

Children's musuem "Junges Schloss"Landesmuseum Württemberg

Children's Museum

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.t

Museum of Popular Culture, Castle WaldenbuchLandesmuseum Württemberg

Museum of Popular Culture

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.

Concert in "the house of music" (2017)Landesmuseum Württemberg

The House of Music

The House of Music is a popular and lively meeting place for music lovers in the heart of Stuttgart. It is where the Württemberg State Museum exhibits the most outstanding pieces from its important collection of historical musical instruments.

Credits: Story

Cocept/Text : Landesmuseum Württemberg
Editorial work & implementation: Anna Gnyp, Landesmuseum Württemberg

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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