Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, has a dozen museums. Many of them are in historic buildings like the Museum of History which is in a 16th century former slaughterhouse and a voodoo museum (yes you did read that right), in a water tower! There’s a varied range of exhibitions from antiquity to contemporary – something to suit all tastes.
The Palais Rohan de Strasbourg was built between 1732 and 1742 to plans by Robert de Cotte, Principal Architect to the King, for Cardinal Armand-Gaston de Rohan-Soubise, Prince-Bishop of Strasbourg. Designed to resemble one of the great Parisian mansions, this magnificent residence has remained virtually unchanged since it was built. Many visitors miss this one as the building, although huge, seems tucked away in a corner on a large square overlooking the river.
It’s now home to the Musée des Beaux-Arts with a major collection of European paintings which includes Botticelli, Rubens and Canaletto. The Musée Archéologique is in the basement. And there’s a Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
Musée des Arts Decoratif
It’s a fascinating museum composed of sumptuous apartments of the former cardinals with artefacts from the 17th to the 19th century from tapestries to tableware, furniture and paintings. There’s a real atmosphere here, it feels as if nothing has changed in hundreds of years and you get a feeling for how public and private lives of the wealthy inhabitants differed. Extraordinarily rich architecture and decor, beautiful furnishings – it’s one you shouldn’t miss if you love history and beautiful things…
Musée de l’Ouevre Notre-Dame | Medieval Museum
Next door to Palais Rohan, this is another museum that’s absolutely stunning. I could have spent several hours in the Medieval Museum, there’s so much to see. Located in a former stone masons house and buildings from the 14th -16th centuries, it houses masterpieces of sculpture from the middle ages, and from the Cathedral.
There is a superb collection of stained glass windows, including the Wissembourg “Tête de Christ” window, one of the oldest known stained-glass windows. Religious statuary, wood carvings, paintings and more are on show. This is one of the most beautiful collections of medieval art I’ve ever seen. It really is a must-see.
Discover the life and past of rural Alsace at the Musée Alsacien. Some rooms are faithful reproductions of rural interiors of homes and shops. And there are thousands of objects from furniture, ceramics and everyday artefacts from the 17th to the 19th century. It’s very charming and a great way to get to know more about the city.
Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art
If you’re a modern art fan the contemporary and modern art museum will make you very happy. Just the other side of the Vauban Dam in a huge glass building, currently covered in black and white street art, it is huge and fascinating. It mixes a number of mediums including a very famous Monet poppy painting in the landscape themed area, alongside very modern art. Wassily Kandinsky is heavily featured including a room created from one of his Cubist check creations.
This is a museum that presents art by theme. It juxtaposes modern alongside contemporary and modern could mean Monet or Sisley. It’s home to art that’s altogether more quirky and completely fascinating. I saw a giant plastic spider with a cats face which walks across the room! The Art café on the first floor has a great outdoor terrace. From here you’ll get breath-taking views over the city whilst you get your breath back from the exhibitions. Here you can take a break with tea, pastries or lunch.
Chateau Musée Vodou
Rather unusually, Strasbourg has a voodoo museum. It’s that sort of city, full of surprises. The museum in a 19th century water tower, is home to the world’s largest private collection of West African voodoo artefacts. Exhibits cover ancestor worship, medicine, divination, witchcraft and more – it’s magic!
Find details of all museums on the Strasbourg Tourist Office website: www.otstrasbourg.fr/en/discover/monuments-museums-and-other-sites-to-visit/museums