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The Museum of the Bavarian Kings

A Room With A View: Gain New Perspectives On Bavaria's Kings


What a location! On the waterfront of crystal clear Alpsee Lake and at the foot of castles Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau the Museum of the Bavarian Kings has opened its gates in September 2011. It is worth visitng just because of its location, but by far not alone because of that! The art nouveau ensemble - a former hotel - which has been extended by a sepctacular steel construction now houses a lot of knowledge about Bavaria's royal history. Not only famous Swan King Ludwig II. is being covered by the exhibition but the whole dynasty of the Wittelsbach family is being presented. For those who want to have a straight historical look on Bavaria's kings that goes above the rather kitschy perspective that is presented at the castle tours, this museum is a must!

The museum is privately owned, initiated and sponsored by the House of Wittelsbach with means from the Wittelsbach Equalizing Fund. With the Museum of the Bavarian Kings the family does not only give a further piece of culture and education to the Free State of Bavaria but the museum is a matter close to the heart of this noble family that wants to tell parts of its history which may not be so well known. Most stories about Royal Bavaria revolve around Ludwig II., about his extravagant debaucheries, his castles and his aloof attitude. However, Ludwig was not a typical representative of his family. Most Bavarian kings were rather down-to-earth and considerate in their political actions. The exhibition manages well to show these aspects and to bring them vividly home to the visitors. The museum concept was worked out by the recognized Centre of Bavarian History (Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte) and it makes use of state-of-the-art museography.

The beginning of the exhibition tour starts with one of the highlights: under the newly constructed steel dome ceiling a huge white table with an impressive golden centerpiece is shown. The stately object depicts scenes from the Saga of the Nibelungs, After that, an accessible genealogical tree of the Wittelsbach family follows. It exposes well how the dynasty managed to manifest its position in Europe with the help of purposeful marriage politics. Touchscreens allow visitors to gain more information on each important family member. This part of the exhibition is followed by another highlight: a 21 metre long panorama window which allows a breathtaking view of the Alpsee Lake and the surrounding mountains. A visual trick makes Castle Hohenschwangau appear in the window's frame.

Further topics of the museum are the Kingdom of Bavaria and the end of the monarchy. The latter is being epitomized by a 328-piece dinnerware set that the children of the last king, Ludiwg III. and his wife Marie Therese had given their parents for their golden wedding. Each service piece shows a site that is connected with the family history. In retrospect, this seems like a look back to the royal past. The wedding jubilee took place in January 1918, the Kingdom of Bavaria unexpectedly ended in October of the same year. The museum also shows how the history of the Wittelsbach family went on after that, e.g. how members of the family were detained in concentration camps during the time of National Socialism. Parts of the Wittelsbach arts collection are also exhibited, some of the pieces come directly from the private ownership of family members.

The Museum of the Bavarian Kings is an all-round success! Its architecture, its pedagogical concept, and its location show how past and present must be considered in their evolutionary correlation; how today's Bavaria came into being through the old Bavaria, how an old building can be brought to new glory, how a traditional touristic site can gain new meaning. So if you are visiting the nearby castles you should not miss seeing this quieter and more serious place, too - even if its really just because of the location!

 

Contact Information:

Museum of the Bavarian Kings
Alpseestraße 27
87645 Hohenschwangau
Telefone: +49 (0) 8362/ 92 64 64-0
Telefax: + 49 (0) 8362/ 92 64 64-30
Email: museum(at)hohenschwangau.de

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