Landesmuseum Württemberg

When I was asked if I could contribute articles about one or two of my favourite museums to Mainly Museums, I did not hesitate for long – I love museums! And since I’ve been working in a museum for 19 years, wouldn't it be a shame if my workplace was not one of my favourite museums? So, my first contribution for Mainly Museums will be about "my" museum.

Old Castle
PHOTOGRAPH BY (Landesmuseum Württemberg, Photo H. Zwietasch)

The Landesmuseum Württemberg in Stuttgart (Wuerttemberg State Museum) is the largest museum in the state of Baden-Württemberg in Southwest Germany, and is also one of the largest museums of cultural history in the country. The museum was founded in 1862, but the collection dates back to the Kunstkammer (art cabinet) of the Dukes – and later Kings – of Württemberg, which was established in the 16th century. Today, it is the custodian of more than one million objects, from the Stone Age to the present day.

Württemberg by epoch

The majority of the collections are in the Old Castle building. Here, permanent displays and special exhibitions span 4,900 and 1,000 m2 respectively. An additional area of 400 m2 houses ‘Young Castle’ - the children’s museum, presenting various themes for 4 to 10-year-olds including a yearly interactive exhibition.

The best place for visitors to start exploring the museum is on the 2nd floor, which is dedicated to the territory of Württemberg. This exhibition journeys through the area’s cultural history, from the time of the Neanderthals 80,000 B.C. to the end of World War I in 1918.

Split into archaeological epochs, finds from the Stone Age are followed by the Bronze Age, Celtic era, and then by Roman; a culture which occupied the area for 200 years. Following this, was the time of the Alamanni and Franks in the early Middle Ages. From the High Middle Ages - with a focus on art from churches and monasteries - visitors move on to the time when the Counts of Württemberg were elevated to Dukes; an era when the Stuttgart court became one of the most glamourous in Germany. Then, under Napoleon, the Dukes rose further to the status of Kings, with ties to the Romanov family through two marriages to daughters of Russian Tsars. The tour ends with the end of Württemberg as an independent state after World War I in 1918.

Particular highlights in this area are the oldest movable pieces of art from the Ice Age. Found in the caves of the Swabian Jura (awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2017), they feature wonderful figurines carved from mammoth ivory, such as a lion's head found in the Vogelherd cave, which is a firm favourite amongst visitors.

A view “into the Ice Age”
PHOTOGRAPH BY (Landesmuseum Württemberg, Photo H. Zwietasch)
Roman religion
PHOTOGRAPH BY (Landesmuseum Württemberg, Photo H. Zwietasch)

Curation and engagement

The permanent display on the 2nd floor was opened in 2012. During its curation, great importance was attached to creating an aesthetic and appealing design where visitors feel comfortable and can experience the cultural history of the region in their own way.

Focussed around central exhibits, an overview of each epoch can be seen at a glance, with impressions created without requiring explanatory text. For example, in conveying the essence of the Ice Age, the shape and bright glow of the showcases allude to the coldness of the time, while in the area dedicated to Roman religion, the ‘wall of gods’ stands for the multitude of deities in the Roman world.

Graphics offer an insight into the lives of the people who lived in each epoch. Hands-on and media stations, together with the objects on display, make it possible to explore the archaeology and history of the region on various levels. Films and animations provide additional context, and cover topics including Neolithic settlements and lost handicraft techniques. Hands-on stations aimed at all ages include replicas of artefacts, making it possible to experience objects such as a Stone Age cart or the helmets of Roman legionaries through touch. And children in particular are engaged with ‘children's level’ showcases, specifically built at their height, with themes presented in a child-friendly way using original finds as well as replicas, models and dioramas.

World class treasures

The 1st floor features further permanent displays, using the same educational and informational techniques to present core pieces from the collections of the Landesmuseum. Opened in 2016, three top-class collections offer insights stretching over four millennia of history in both Württemberg and beyond.

The collection on Classical Antiquity offers a comprehensive view of the world from the civilisations of the Mediterranean region, from the Greek Bronze Age to the Imperium Romanum. The highlights are the collections of mummy portraits and other Graeco-Roman objects from Egypt.

The collection of early Celtic graves from the 7th to 5th centuries B.C., are outstanding examples, and form the basis for the exhibition section on the Celts. The Hochdorf Prince’s grave features as the central focus; the discovery of which in 1978-79 was considered an archaeological sensation.

The Kunstkammer of the Dukes of Württemberg is one of the largest European collections of its kind. In addition to ‘miracles made by human hands’, the Dukes were also interested in astonishing natural objects and exotica from foreign and distant lands, such as ostrich eggs and Aztec feather shields.

The Kunstkammer
PHOTOGRAPH BY (Landesmuseum Württemberg, Photo H. Zwietasch)

But that’s not all…

For those who are not yet exhausted after these two exhibitions, a visit of the basement of the Old Castle is recommended! Here, through the ‘Glass from Four Millennia – The Ernesto Wolf Collection’, one of the most important glass collections in the world is presented, as well as an important collection of precious clocks and scientific instruments.

Exhibition of clocks
PHOTOGRAPH BY (Landesmuseum Württemberg, Photo H. Zwietasch)

Opposite this building, in the basement of the New Castle, visitors can explore the Roman Lapidarium, where Roman inscriptions and sculpture found in Württemberg are exhibited. While in the Fruchtkasten building, the ‘House of Music’ displays outstanding historical musical instruments as well as providing a venue for regular concerts.

From 24th October 2020 to 25th April 2021, the exhibition ‘Fashion? The Elements of Style’ will take place in the special exhibition area, with a corresponding interactive exhibition about clothing and its production in the ‘Young Castle’.

And, if you still haven't had enough of the collection of the Landesmuseum, The Landesmuseum also presents parts of its collections in six branch museums and as well one satellite Museum in the Castle of Waldenbuch!

Museum information

Website and social media:, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, @LMWStuttgart.

Location: Württemberg State Museum, Altes Schloss, Schillerplatz 6, 70173 Stuttgart

Admission: permanent exhibitions are free until June 2021.

‘Fashion? The Elements of Style’ exhibition: €14 (adults), €4 (children), free (children under 12 and students of all fashion-related courses on presentation of a student card). Family tickets and concession rates are available.

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 5pm (6pm at weekends and 9pm on Thursday during ‘Fashion? The Elements of Style’ exhibition).

Covid specific information: some exhibitions may not be open, and there are specific hygiene and distancing rules in place. Information can be found on the museum’s website.

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Nina Willburger

Dr Nina Willburger is the head of the archaeological department at the Landesmuseum Württemberg and specialises in Roman and Greek Archaeology. She made her childhood dream come true by taking up the best profession in the world: every day she is allowed to occupy herself with archaeology, and is even paid for it. Follow her on Twitter: @DrNWillburger