The Unterlinden Museum is probably the most famous place in Colmar. The museum found its home in the former Dominican convent which was built 1269 - 89. In medieval times the convent was a centre of spiritual life in the region.
Secularized during the French revolution the buildings were used for the museum. It hosts important collections of medieval and contemporary works of art (mostly pictures).
The most famous work of art is the Isenheimer Altar by Matthias Grünewald, which deserves its own tip :-)
The Isenheimer Altar (1512 - 16) is one of the greatest masterworks of medieval art in Europe. It is the main work of Matthias Grünewald ((1480-1531/32 ?), who probably was a student of Albrecht Dürer.
The altar consists of ten pictures, the biggest of them 265 x 140 cm. Surprising effects of light, brilliant colours, precise physiognomies leave the visitor speechless. Grünewald presents key scenes of Christian religion: a blood-curdling crucification scene, the Annunciation to Maria, a Christmas scene, resurrection of Jesus and the temptation of Jesus.
The altar is completed by wonderfully carved wooden figures by Niclas Hagnower, depicting Augustinus, Antonius, Hieronymus and Christus and the apostles.
This is a relatively small but world class museum with a wide range of exhibits from Roman times, paintings and wine making. Its main claim to fame is Greuenwald's Isenheim Altarpiece which was done for benefit of hospital patients suffering from various terrible skin diseases. The hope was that their suffering would be relieved by identifying with an agonizing Christ who is also depicted with diseased skin. It is actually a 3 panel piece and I think can change with the season.
We went to this museum expecting it to be devoted to the Statue of Liberty since Bartholdi was its creator. There is some info and the pictured model, but it is basically his home. I wanted to buy a small Statue of Liberty as a souvenir, but could not find one in the whole town. It was a worthwhile visit, however, and I recommend it.
We visited theBartholdi Museum expecting it to be dedicated to the Statue of Liberty. However, the museum is his home and a lovely place. This photo is of the dining room. Quite a unique use of the china, but a nice effect. Bartholdi did not only the Statue of Liberty but a fountain in Philadelphia for the observance of USA's centennial in 1876. His work can also be seen all around Colmar. Some joke that all his statues have one arm raised, but there are exceptions.
Frederrie Auguste Bartholdi was born in Colmar on 2nd August, 1834. After his father died in 1836 his mother moved the family to Paris, keeping the family home in Colmar which is now the home of the Bartholdi Museum.
His best known work is the Statute of Liberty located in New York City.
Since 1922 the former family home has housed the largest collection of his works, models and souvenirs.
On display in the inner courtyard is the "Grands soutiens du monde" (bronze 1902).
"This former Dominican convent, with its Gothic cloister which is considered the finest in Alsace, was built between 1269 and 1289. From the mid-19th century, it housed the Unterlinden museum, which is renowned for its Rhenish masterpieces dating from the end of the middle ages. The Issenheim retable by Matthias Grünewald is displayed in the former chapel, and in front of the chancel is the statue of the Colmarian painter and engraver, Martin Schongauer (v. 1450-1491), made by Bartholdi in 1860."
The Unterlinden Museum is the most well-known attraction in Colmar. Housed in a former convent of the Dominicans (a religious order known for its austerity), the Unterlinden Museum contains an impressive collection of medieval religious paintings, many exhibits of local life, as well as many more modern paintings and even Roman artifacts. Its centerpiece is the dramatic 16-century Issenheim Alterpiece by Matthias Gruenewald. Other exhbits include an impressive armor collection. While I was here there were also several amazing engravings by Martin Schongauer.
"The house where the sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904) was born, the son of a Prefectoral councillor, who died in 1836, this residence was built in the 15th century and transformed in the 18th century into an elegant hôtel particulier [town mansion]. Since 1922 it has housed the largest collection of works, models and souvenirs of the designer of the Statue of Liberty enlightening the world, unveiled in New York in 1886. In the inner courtyard the "Grands Soutiens du monde" group (bronze 1902) can be seen."
A must-see activity in Colmar is a visit to the Musée d'Unterlinden. The Unterlinden museum, located in an old Dominican convent, is home to a remarkable work of art called the Issenheim Altarpiece.
Matthias Grünewald was born somewhere in the range of 1470 to 1480, and died in 1528. Little is known about this artist, other than the fact that he created an incredible masterpiece called le Retable d’Issenheim, [the Issenheim Altarpiece].
Matthias Grünewald d'Aschaffembourg was commissioned to create an altar for a church in Issenheim, a small town south of Colmar. The church belonged to an order of monks dedicated to Saint Anthony, and pilgrims visited their church to pray to this saint. Many of the pilgrims suffered from “Saint Anthony’s Fire” [ergotism], an extremely unpleasant skin disease caused by a strep infection. The disease causes fever, horrible skin eruptions, and often death. Grünewald’s paintings include several scenes of events in the life of Saint Anthony, as well as an image of someone suffering from this terrible disease.
Grünewald’s painted panels (1512-1516) are attached to a central segment with sculptures by Nicolas de Haguenau (circa 1500). Depending on the church calendar, various panels could be opened or closed to expose different paintings. There is an annunciation, a crucifixion, resurrection, the temptation of Saint Anthony, the death of Saint Sebastien.
The paintings of Grünewald are fantastic, literally and figuratively. We spent hours studying this work. Dive in; appreciate the powerful details and the incredible whole. Imagine the mind of the man that created this incredible imagery.
Another glimpse of the incredible detail in Grünewald's Altarpiece in the Musée d'Unterlinden. This image is from the Resurrection panel.
We spent hours in the museum; it was not at all crowded, so we could savor the wonders of this masterpiece.
Architect & Sculptor Fr?d?ric-Auguste Bartholdi was born in Colmar on August 2, 1834. Since 1922, the home of his birth has been a museum. Here you can see plans and models for his works, including the most famous: the statue of Liberty Enlightening the World.
See my travelogue on this page for the story of this statue, and what it symbolizes for France and the US.
This building once served as a Dominican convent, under some linden trees (hence the name "underlinden"). This museum houses some impressive exhibits, including one of France's best collections of medieval art. Probably the most famous is the priceless Isenheim Altarpiece, inside the chapel. It also houses some artifacts from Colmar's long history. This should be on anyone's itinernary. In addition, there is a new gallery of modern art.
"The building of the former Turenne school, built in the 16th century, has since 1985 housed the Colmar Natural History Museum, which was founded in 1859. Initially established in the Unterlinden premises until 1940, the collections were transferred in 1959 to a house which has since disappeared in the Water Tower park, where they were viewed until 1983. The main departments are zoology, mineralogy and ethnography."
Opening hours :
From 1st February to 22nd December: every day except Tuesdays: 10-12 am and 2- 5 pm. Sundays: 2 -6 pm. Closed: 1st May- 1st November and 25th December. Guided tours on request by appointment.
Archaeology, Folk art, Ethnography, Geology and natural sciences
It was late in the afternoon when we arrived at the Unterlinden Museum and we were a little weary. The building caught my eye and I decided to take a few photos and as we came to the entrance gate I noticed the beautiful well.
Instinct told me this was a special place and we paid our entrance fee, entered the first display room which immediately confirmed that we had made the right decision.
The museum is celebrating 160 years and has a broad cross section of exhibits. We stayed an hour or more and enjoyed our visit but had to leave early as we had to catch the train back to Strasbourg.