Saturday, April 23, 2016

Musee d’Unterlinden and the Wine Road of Alsace

Executive summary by Darmansjah

The Unterlinden Museum (officially Musée d'Unterlinden, also cited in English as Musée Unterlinden) is located in Colmar, France, in the Alsace region. The museum, housed in a 13th-century Dominican religious sisters' convent, is home to the Isenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald and features a large collection of local and international artworks and manufactured artifacts from prehistorical to contemporary times. The museum bears the quality label Musée de France and is one of the most visited in France outside of the Île-de-France.

The museum was established in 1849, the buildings (abandoned following the French Revolution) having been saved by the Societé Schongauer (founded in 1847 by Louis Hugot ) and bequeathed to it by the municipality. The collection at first centered around a Roman mosaic found in Bergheim, Haut-Rhin, still displayed today at the place to which it was originally moved, and plaster copies of antique sculptures on loan from the Louvre. In 1852, the focus of the collection shifted dramatically, when the Isenheim Altarpiece as well as most of the other large painted and/or sculpted altarpieces from former Colmar or Upper Rhenish churches, abbeys and monasteries, were installed in the building. The museum opened its doors to the general public in the following year, 1853. As the museum's official website states : "Today the museum covers a surface area of about 5,620 m², including exhibition spaces (4,000 m²), conservation, storage and other work areas (1,370 m²), and offices (250 m²)".

In the 1950s and again in the 1980s, the need appeared for the museum, which had seen a steady growth of the number of its displayed artifacts in every domain, to gain more space by using available surface more appropriately, and was each time addressed as far as the classified character of the building in itself could allow. Today, the Unterlinden Museum currently spreads out over three levels and makes use of every space available in the large complex of buildings. The city of Colmar is currently working to transform the adjacent, Art Nouveau former baths building, into an annex of the museum, in which, by 2014, the modern masters can be displayed permanently. According to the museum's website, "The total area open to the public, which now amounts to 4,000 m², will be enlarged to 6,300 m²"

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