Collection of Medieval Art in Thuringia
Predigerplatz (near Markt)
Tel. +49 (0)3691 784 678
Work began on the Prediger Church in honour of Landgravine Elisabeth shortly after her canonisation.
The church was consecrated in around 1240. Today, the abbey buildings that have survived are used by the Martin Luther School. The church itself has an exhibition of carved figures, altarpieces, tombstones and liturgical items owned by the Thuringian Museum.
Adults: € 4.00
Concessions: € 2.00
Groups per person: € 3.00
Concessions Family ticket: € 3.00
Combined ticket with
Reuter Wagner Museum and
City-Castle: € 9.00
Guided tours: by prior arrangement
Public guided tours as advertised Books and souvenirs available
Open every saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (until April 10th)
The Thuringian Museum was founded in 1899 in the former refectory of the Dominican abbey at the Karl Friedrich School. The museum owns Thuringia's largest collection of medieval carvings, continually enriched by acquisitions and loans from Lutheran Protestant parishes.
The sculptures and altarpieces in the collection provide an illustration of the abundance of sacred artworks produced throughout Thuringia since the 12th century.
The collection is on display in the Prediger Church crypt. The church has no tower and was the church of the Dominicans, founded in 1216 as one of the preacher and mendicant monastic orders. Parts of the monastery still survive, mainly to the south side.
Work began on building the Prediger Church shortly after the canonisation in 1235 of Elisabeth of Thuringia, who died in Marburg in 1231. The church is also dedicated to John the Baptist. The chancel is thought to have been completed, and the church consecrated, in 1240. Begun in late-Romanesque and finished in Gothic style, the church has no transept but a single aisle to the north leading from the main entrance. The east end has a triple-naved, vaulted crypt with the high chancel above. The Romanesque pillar bases have been largely preserved, as have the Gothic floor niches for the celebrant's chair in the high chancel. During the 16th, 17th and 19th centuries, there were many substantial structural changes to the monastery complex. After secularisation in the 16th century, the church was used for a variety of purposes, including as a corn store and as a soup kitchen, before the Thuringian Museum's collections took up residence in 1905.
Since 1931, the museum's carved sculptures have been exhibited in the Prediger Church, while its other collections - Thuringian craftwork, Thuringian folklore, paintings, prints and drawings - have been on display in the palace on the market square.
Today, the Martin Luther School uses the surviving monastery buildings, which housed the Latin School after 1544.
The carvings and panel paintings in the exhibition are wonderful examples of the medieval art of Thuringia. Major workshops in Erfurt, Saalfeld, Jena and beyond are represented by the sculptures on display. There are outstanding works of art side by side with illustrations of common piety, with pupils of Tilman Riemenschneider - Hans Gottwalt von Lohr and Valentin Lendenstreich, for example - working alongside anonymous masters. The characteristics of medieval Thuringian art are its broad thematic range, its depth of feeling, its eclecticism and its technical mastery.
Thuringia is the region bordered by the Saale, Elster and Werra rivers and the Harz mountains. It has been criss-crossed by east-west and north-south routes running between its towns, castles and abbeys for as long as anyone can remember. These hubs of activity encouraged the development of workshops. Some tended to preserve their local traditions, others were more open to the influence of journeymen carvers and painters from other regions. The many crucifixes, altars, pietàs, figures of saints and statues of Mary in the collection are priceless examples of the medieval art of Thuringia.
The art of the Middle Ages was almost exclusively religious. Its purpose was to admonish people or to glorify God and his saints. Rows of saints on gold backgrounds, beautiful Madonnas and depictions of the Holy Family gathered in quiet conversation allow us an insight into what the people of the high and late Middle Ages imagined heaven to be like. Harmony, beauty, tranquillity, peace and piety are the idiom of many works of art from this period, expressions of man's hope and longing for salvation in paradise.
Such yearnings were born of people's experience of daily existence, often marked by misery and starvation and plagued by illness, premature death, epidemics and war. The large-scale crucifixes especially favoured in Thuringia, the pietàs closely associated with the mysticism prevalent in the region and the depictions of martyrs express people's own experience and their devout strivings to be like Christ or the Virgin Mary. The many saints, patrons of churches, professions and names, were invoked in times of need in daily life. In their form and content, these artworks provide an insight into the needs of the faithful and the people who commissioned them.
Travel information: bus no. 1, 2 or 5 from the station (Bahnhof) to the market square (Markt).
15 minutes' walk from the station via Karlsplatz, the pedestrian area and the market square to Predigerplatz.