Diocesan Museum Rottenburg

The Diocesan Museum of Rottenburg-Stuttgart is among the oldest institutions of its kind, and houses one of the most important collections of medieval art in the state of Baden-Württemberg. It was founded in 1862 when Johann Georg Martin Dursch, a priest from Rottweil, sold his collection of Old Swabian paintings to Joseph von Lipp, the Bishop of Rottenburg at the time. It has expanded steadily ever since. Alongside a wide range of late medieval painting and sculpture, the museum today displays an impressive array of sacred treasury art, outstanding examples of folk art, as well as the largest glass reliquary collection in the German-speaking world. Through this rich and varied artistic spectrum, the visitor gains insights into the religious tradition of southwest Germany, which has endured for over a thousand years.

Sacred art in the heart of Rottenburg

The artworks have been housed since 1996 in the former Carmelite Monastery Church between the River Neckar, the priest seminary and the Rottenburg Market Square (Marktplatz). Stuttgart architect Eckehard Janofske modified the interior of the church for this purpose. Through modern installations, a kind of ‘house within a house’ has been created, achieving a charming combination of old and new. The ground floor consists mostly of altarpieces and devotional paintings, which have developed a unique sacred resonance by being hung in the alcoves of this baroque building. Most of the sculptures, together with works of Swabian folk art, can be found on the upper floor. The ‘treasure chamber’ in the basement is home to precious liturgical objects and garments, as well as the remarkable collection of glass reliquaries.

Visualizing faith – the paintings and sculptures

The museum picture collection contains masterworks of painting from the 15th right up to the 21st century, including Dutch panel paintings and works by the successors of Albrecht Dürer. Late medieval Swabian painting is well represented, with the celebrated ‘St. Martin dividing his cloak’ (1460/70), and panels from the high altar of Rottweil (1440) and by the Master of Meßkirch (around 1535/40). The diversity of the collection also extends to content: numerous scenes from the life of Christ and images of the Virgin Mary and the Saints make manifest the fascinating world of Christian imagery. Some important late medieval and Renaissance artists of the southwest are represented among the substantial collection of sculptures, like Hans Multscher, Niklaus Weckmann and Jörg Lederer. Highlights are the Christ-and-John Group (1340), the Ulm Man of Sorrows (1470/80) and the Palm Donkey (1520). Jörg Stein’s Saint Catherine (1470) is a rare testimony to the brightness and colourfulness of medieval sculpture, and is still striking today in its exceptionally preserved original state. The Swabian Baroque is represented by the monumental Hechingen Rood Group (1600) amongst others.

Worth its weight in gold – the sacred treasury art

Over a millennium’s worth of outstanding goldsmithery is on display in the ‘treasure chamber’: amongst the oldest works is the Ennabeuren Pyx from the 7th century, originating from the period of the Alemannic conversion. The Augsburg Monstrance (1755) by Franz Ignaz Berdolt is an impressive example of Jesuit splendour. Besides these, the episcopal regalia have a significant symbolic importance for the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart. Of particular note is the pastoral staff with St. Martin dividing his cloak (1905) used by Bishop Joannes B. Sproll, as well as the valuable Keppler Cup (1925), adorned with jewels, which is still used today at the ordination of priests.

Events in the Diocesan Museum Rottenburg

With its numerous events (Veranstaltungen), the Diocesan Museum is a vibrant centre of art education – for all target groups. Our tour series is much loved, including ‘Children, Art and the Church Year’ (Kinder, Kunst und Kirchenjahr), ‘Art Discussion for Women’ (Kunstgespräch für Frauen), ‘Art and Music’ (Kunst und Musik), ‘Within Touching Distance’ (Auf Tuchfühlung!), or ‘Church Art Up Close!’ (Kirchenkunst hautnah!). A whole range of additional lectures and tours also takes place, constantly offering fresh perspectives on the collection and the wider horizons of faith, art and history.