Every year, the Bavarian National Museum in Munich attracts huge number of tourists, as well as locals from Munich. The exhibits in show here range from the early Middle Ages to the beginning of the 20th Century, making this a prestigious collection even on an international level. Although the museum suffered substantial destruction in the Second World War, it’s still possible to take a tour through the various ages there today.

The history of the Bavarian National Museum

The old building on Maximilianstraße

It was a major concern of King Maximilian II that all the treasures, memories, and monuments of German history should not fade into oblivion. Therefore, in 1855, he decided to set up a museum for this purpose. Even back then, the king gave the museum the name it still bears today, the “Bavarian National Museum”. According to the plans, the first building to be constructed was the Taubstummen Institute opposite the government building. But shortly after it was completed, the king had it torn down again, because he wanted to build a monumental building in its place. So it came to be that, contrary to the king’s original plans, the Bavarian National History Museum was built on Maximilianstraße. The museum took nine years to build and was finally opened on the 12th October 1867.

Picture source: flickr (digital cat)

The new building on Prinzregentenstraße

Since the building on Maximilianstraße already showed serious construction defects after a few years and the space for the collection was too small, the state parliament decided to construct a new building for the museum in 1892. The chosen site was the “Royal Wood Garden” by the English Garden on Prinzregentenstraße. The architect in charge, Seidl, came up with a design that was intended to combine a wide variety of architectural styles and adapt the style of the halls to the respective exhibits. The result had great appeal. The new Bavarian National Museum on Prinzregentenstraße was finally opened by Prince Regent Luitpold on the 29th September 1900.

The works on display

As well as the permanent exhibition, which mainly comes from the Bavarian House of Wittelsbach, there is also the Bollert Collection, which shows sculptures from the Gothic and Renaissance periods. Walking round the museum, visitors can admire artistic periods from Late Antiquity to Art Nouveau. As well as paintings and sculptures, you’ll also find works of art made from gold and ivory, tapestries, pieces of furniture, weapons, and porcelain. On top of that, the famous manger collection encompasses more than 60 Christmas scenes with a remarkable number of figures that were made in Naples, Sicily, and the Alpine region between 1700 and 1850. Last but not least, the way that the rooms are designed to fit the exhibitions makes the Bavarian National Museum one of the most significant and original museum buildings of its time, as well as home to one of the largest art and cultural history collections in Europe.

Picture source: flickr (project 1080)

Branch museums of the Bavarian National Museum

As well as the building on Prinzregentenstraße, the Bavarian National Museum also has a series of branch museums throughout Bavaria. Most of these are special collections that showcase an area that’s important to the respective region. For example, there is the Alpine Gallery in Kempten, the Franconian Gallery in Kronach, and the Ceramics Museum in Obernzell. The Trausnitz Castle Chamber of Art and Curiosities and the Thurn and Taxis Royal Treasure Chamber in Regensburg are also well worth a visit.

Current exhibitions, guided tours, and prices

As well as the permanent exhibition and the Bollert Collection, you can also admire another exhibition until the 25th August 2013: “Chiné – a studio exhibition: chain-patterned fabric from the 18th and 19th centuries”. In addition, a special exhibition on bags is also being held until the 25th August 2013, which will show a cultural history of Europe from the 16th to the 21st century.

Picture source: flickr (Scott M)

In addition to the audio guides provided, you can also book guided yours of various areas or on different topics. The museum offers free guided tours of the collections and the special exhibition on Sundays at 11am and Thursdays at 6pm. However, it is better for larger groups of visitors to book a separate appointment. The entry price without a booked tour is between €3 and €7, depending on the different areas. Admission is free for children up to 18 years old. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am-5pm and on Thursday until 8pm, while the Bollert collection is open from Thursday to Sunday from 10am-5pm.

You can get to the Bavarian National Museum from the Platzl Hotel Munich in just 5 minutes by car on 20 minutes on foot. You can also get directly to the Bavarian National Museum in about 20 minutes by public transport by taking city bus 100 from Odeonsplatz towards Ostbahnhof.

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