The Görlitz Museum of Cultural History is a regional museum that is located in three buildings within the city limits: the Baroque House, the Kaisertrutz and the Reichenbach Tower. We took a look at the three quite different areas in the Kulturhistorisches Museum Görlitz and this much we can reveal in advance – it was really interesting.
We began our tour in the Kaisertrutz.
The Kaisertrutz was part of the Görlitz city fortifications and was one of 32 bastions. The building was built as a roundel and was equipped with cannons. Today, four bastions still exist.
In 1490, the building was erected to protect the Reichenbach Gate and the Via Regia, one of the largest and most important trade routes.
During the Thirty Years’ War, the Swedes occupied Görlitz. In 1641, troops of Emperor Ferdinand II besieged the town. The bastion defied the attacks of the imperial troops. At this point it was given the name Kaisertrutz.
Until the First World War, the building was used for military purposes. In 1920, the city regained the right of use and initially converted the building. In 1932, a museum moved into the Kaisertrutz. In 2009-2011, the building was renovated and now houses the Görlitz Museum of Cultural History. A permanent exhibition on the cultural history of the city and region, special exhibitions and the Gallery of Modern Art are on display.
Permanent exhibition in the Kaisertrutz
When you enter the building, the colourful stripes on the floor immediately catch your eye. Each colour stands for an era and you will find this colour again in the corresponding exhibition area. A really nice orientation aid.
In the basement, the tour begins with the cultural history of the region around Görlitz in the period from around 12,000 BC. On display are mainly archaeological finds from the region – from flint to grave finds from the Bronze Age Lusatian culture, Slavic settlement around 1000 AD to the founding of the city of Görlitz. The accompanying information throughout the permanent exhibition can be read in German, English and Polish.
In 1303, Görlitz received its town charter and due to its good location on the Via Regia trade route, trade and commerce developed very quickly in the town. The exhibition explains the Via Regia in a very good and understandable way. For the first time, I got a good explanation of the route with the help of the media table.
Wool weaving and beer production were the most important crafts in the town. In the permanent exhibition, for example, you can see guild objects and carvings, such as an impressive carved wooden panorama of the town from 1565.
The history of Görlitz is examined in the permanent exhibition up to the present day. From the economic boom in the course of industrialisation to the consequences of war and the crises that the city and its population experienced afterwards. It was particularly exciting for me to see the development of the city during the GDR and the peaceful revolution.
Special exhibition and Gallery of Modern Art
During our visit to the Görlitz Museum of Cultural History, the special exhibition “950 Years of Future Görlitz Zgorzelec” was on display on the second floor of the Kaisertrutz.
The exhibition looks at the past, present and future of the two cities. The focus is on the challenges and opportunities that the citizens have experienced in the process or would like to master in the future. Visitors can present their visions for the future in the exhibition and see ideas of development from different areas always with a focus on German-Polish cooperation.
The Gallery of Modern Art is located on the third floor of the Kaisertrutz. Here you can see impressive paintings, graphics and sculptures from the 20th and 21st centuries by artists who were significant for Görlitz and the region.
Baroque house Neißstraße 30
The baroque house in Neißstraße houses another exhibition area of the Görlitz Museum of Cultural History.
The merchant and councillor Johann Christian Ameiß had this imposing residential and commercial building built in 1726-1729 in what is now the old town of Görlitz, not far from the town hall, directly on the Via Regia. He was quite wealthy due to the supra-regional trade in damask and linen and wanted to show this with the construction of the house.
Today, the house is one of the best-preserved baroque buildings in the city.
The Oberlausitzische Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften (Upper Lusatian Society of Sciences) had its headquarters in the building from 1804 to 1945, so it is not surprising that there are real treasures of collections to be seen here.
On the first floor, the Beletage, you enter the flat of the Ameiß family through a door. The living rooms are almost completely furnished, though not with the family’s original furniture, but with furniture that matches the period. Here one can see impressively how the middle classes lived at the beginning of the 18th century. The “representative rooms” to which you have been invited are in the front house. They are large and strikingly designed. One showed what one had.
First you enter the hallway. From this entrance area of the flat, all other rooms can be reached. Here, in the centre of the flat, people waited to be let in to see the master of the house. It is assumed that the family also met here for meals.
I am particularly impressed by the size of the rooms. The stucco on the ceilings is particularly beautiful, giving the rooms a noble character. Very rare and quite expensive is the colourful design of the plaster mass of the stucco. If you look more closely, you can discover beautiful ornaments and even some figurative depictions.
The Grand Salon is located in front of the Bedroom, the Small Salon and the Study and was used to receive high-ranking guests and business partners. It was probably also used for family celebrations. The Small Drawing Room adjoining it served as the Master’s Room. The stucco ceilings of both rooms are just as elaborate as those in the entrance area of the flat. I also like the beautiful tiled stoves in these representative rooms. Even if I don’t want to heat them in winter, I find the warmth they spread simply cosy and comforting.
The dressing room is right next to the sheep room. Here there were cupboards and chests for clothes. Since this was a subordinate area of the flat, they are less conspicuous stucco ceilings.
The master’s bedroom was probably located in a corner room of the flat. It was quite representative and also serves to receive selected business partners.
The smallest room in the flat was the cabinet. This room was purely private and more simply designed than the representative rooms. This was where the ladies of the house retreated, read or conducted their correspondence. Small-format family pictures often hung in a cabinet.
The passage to the kitchen that exists today was only created later, when the flat was converted into a museum. Originally, the kitchen was accessible from the hallway. Here, people worked with an open fire and according to the Görlitz fire protection regulations, the floor had to be covered with brick slabs and there had to be a solid vault. However, the food was only prepared here; cooking was done in the utility rooms on the ground floor.
The toilet was located on the ground floor of the building.
Permanent and cabinet exhibition
The focus of the Baroque House’s permanent exhibition is on art and science around 1800, with a major emphasis on the Upper Lusatian Society of Sciences, founded in 1779.
In the Baroque Arts section, one can discover numerous exhibits by local, regional and also international artists, such as wrought ironwork, magnificent weapons, vessels made of porcelain or glass, graphics and textile works of art.
I was particularly impressed by the extensive book collection. In 1726, the lawyer Milich donated his private book collection to the city of Görlitz and thus laid the foundation for the huge collection on display here. Later, the collection was expanded with writings from old monastery libraries and other donations from wealthy citizens of the city.
In 1951, this collection was merged with the collection of the Upper Lusatian Society founded in 1770.
Probably the best-known view of the book collection in the Baroque House is the view into the historic Book Room. The hall has existed since 1807, when Karl Gottlob v. Anton donated his collection to the Upper Lusatian Society of Sciences. Here are five huge shelves filled with 20,000 books. The first four book arches belonged to the first donation, the fifth book arch was added in 1841.
The ‘Triumphal Arches of Knowledge’, is a truly fitting name. The view is simply impressive.
Of course, the view is also well-known because film scenes have already been shot here, such as for “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” from 2017.
In addition to books and furniture, there are other interesting collections to see. Exhibits from the Physical Cabinet, the Literature and Music Cabinet, the Antiquities Cabinet and the Natural History Cabinet are on display. These are all collections that members of the Upper Lusatian Society have assembled with great enthusiasm and which they have also studied for research purposes.
At the end of the tour, you pass through a black room. This room was used for a long time by the Görlitz Masonic Lodge ‘Zur gekrönten Schlange’, which had a seat here until 1865. The black room served as preparation for admission to the lodge.
Platz des 17. Juni 1
November until March
Tuesday to Sunday 10 -16 h
April till October
Tuesday to Thursday 10 -17 h
Friday till Sunday 10 – 18 h
Adults: 6,- €
Adults: 6,- €
Disclosure: the visit to the Kulturhistorisches Museum Görlitz was part of a research trip to Görlitz. The article was written independently of the visit.