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The Musée Historique de la Ville de Strasbourg The Musée Historique in around 1947–1950 (jacket) and in 2015 (cover).


17 €

The Musée Historique de la Ville de Strasbourg

From City to Museum: Exploring Strasbourg’s History

870 Treaty of Meerssen: Strasbourg and Alsace become part of Germania.

962 Founding of the Holy Roman Empire.

1001–28 Werner von Habsburg, bishop of Strasbourg.

In an old slaughterhouse In 1587 the City of Strasbourg finally decided to construct a new building for the butchers after their old premises had fallen into disrepair. Located just a bit further down the street, it was completed in 1588. It continued to change over time, eventually becoming home to the collections of the Musée Historique. When it opened, the building, with its U-shaped ground plan, housed both an abattoir and a shop. The butchers, who had not been consulted about the project, quickly discovered that it was unsuitable for their needs. A few years later, a scalding tank was built in the courtyard. ‘Cold rooms’ were added on the ground floor by creating vaulted rooms in the east and west wings. The butchers’ stalls occupied the north wing. The first floor was used as an annex during the fairs that were organised in the Ancienne Douane, the port building. The ‘cold rooms’ were demolished in the late 19th century, as were the timber-framed buildings that housed the slaughterhouse and the scalding tank. In Eugène Petitville’s painting, which dates from 1841, they are still visible. During the 19th century, the building was gradually abandoned by the butchers. It was subsequently put to various uses, including a ‘lockup’, firefighters’ barracks and art school (before the École des Arts Décoratifs was built), and a municipal library. In 1887, part of the building was assigned to the Musée des Arts décoratifs. For the latter, some of the ground-floor windows were turned into arched windows, giving the building its beautiful Renaissance appearance. A stone staircase with an iron banister, also typically neo-Renaissance, was built. At the end of the First World War, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs was moved to the Palais Rohan.

← preceding double page Eugène Petitville, The Pont du Corbeau and the Grande Boucherie, 1841


c. 1100 The south-west suburb (Grand Rue, Sainte Aurélie) is brought within the city walls.

1201–50 Second extension of the walls (Fossé des Faux Remparts and Finkwiller).

1262 Victory of the people of Strasbourg over the bishop at Hausbergen.

Another way of learning about history The nucleus of the historical museum was created following an appeal for donations launched by Hans Haug and Adolphe Riff. Over the decades, it was enriched with military collections, including the large collection donated to the city in 1934 by Fritz Kieffer. Up until 1969, under the supervision of Paul Martin, the collections remained focused on military history and the French periods. On the instigation of Jean-Pierre Klein, they were expanded to include artefacts from everyday life. Following serious problems with the foundations, the building, by then occupied solely by the collections of the historical museum, was closed in 1987. It was reopened in two stages, in 2007 and 2013. Visitors can discover the history of the city, from the Middle Ages to the founding of the European institutions, divided into three chapters: the free city of the Holy Roman Empire; the royal, and later Revolutionary, city; and the modern period. The sections are signalled by the use of distinct colours which make it easier for visitors to find their way about. All information is provided in French, German and English, and an audio guide available at the entrance provides the key information. The displays are dotted with games and quizzes aimed in particular at families. These are an invitation to explore clothing conventions, the evolution in weights and measurements, and changes in means of transport and journey times. Laurent Marquart of GSM Design (Montreal), who was responsible for the design of the displays, set out to make the collections accessible to as many people as possible, with visitors being invited to visit other museums in order to deepen their understanding of particular aspects of the city’s riches. Monique Fuchs Head curator of the Musée Historique de la Ville de Strasbourg


How to read this guide ?

The guide is arranged chronologically and, like the museum, is divided into three sections. Each section begins with colour reproductions of the objects that are emblematic of the city’s history, followed by commentaries on them.

Each work or object has an identifying number, enabling the reader to find the corresponding commentary a few pages further on. This number also enables the reader to pinpoint on the map of  Strasbourg (pages 114–115 and jacket) the work or object’s original location, or an address to which it is linked.

8 8 Peintre anonyme strasbourgeois, Les Quatre Saisons, première moitié du xviie siècle

Leonhard Baldner et Johann Walter le Jeune, Les Joutes nautiques au quai des Pêcheurs à Strasbourg, 1665




A few key dates

In orange, the date of the work or object

Number and thumbnail of the object

In black and white, a detail or another work that enriches the history

Address and map coordinates (pages 114–115 and jacket), making it possible to go and find vestiges of history in the city of today.

Strasbourg, a free city of the Holy Roman Empire From the Late Middle Ages to the 17th century, Strasbourg was a free city that managed the economic, and to some extent legal, affairs of its citizens. Although the city was not really a democracy – the same powerful families controlled both the institutions and commerce – it was responsible for its own defence, organising rotations within corporations and asking all male members of the bourgeoisie to arm themselves according to their income. Strasbourg also minted its own coins and regularly organised a fair at the Ancienne Douane, where merchandise arriving via the Rhine or the Ill was unloaded and sold on the spot. Thanks to the invention of moveable type, printing developed rapidly in Strasbourg, which in 1500 counted more than twenty printing houses or publishers. It was almost certainly due in part to the popularity of incunabula that Strasbourg became a fulcrum of the Reformation in the 16th century.

1 Xavier Zimmermann, Model of the Pfalz, Strasbourg’s town hall, after 1895.

Embroidered portrait of Johannes Gutenberg, made by embroiderers for the sieve-makers’ guild, 1840.




4 Armour of the iron man, partly from the 16th century.


Stove tile with heads of a bishop and a madman, second half of the 16th century–early 17th century.

16 Ironwork for a balcony, between 1747 and 1765, formerly at 9 Place Kléber.

18 Portrait of Cerf Berr, late 18th century, on loan from the Fondation Elisa.


17 Paul Hannong, Cheese drainer, c. 1751–54.

19 After Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, Reduced scale copy of the mausoleum of the marshal of Saxony, late 18th century – early 19th century.




Isidore Pils, Rouget de Lisle singing La Marseillaise for the First Time, 1849, on loan from the Musée du Louvre.

23 Pierre-Dominique Maire, Julien Petit or Boulogne-Petit, Campaign travel kit belonging to Jean-Baptiste Kléber, late 18th century.


1872 Founding of the new Imperial University. Construction of a ring of fortifications.



1879 Law governing the constitution and administration of Alsace-Lorraine.


Trade after the annexation

Such depressing emblems: the caduceus, the attribute of trade, slips through the fingers of the statue representing Alsace, while, at its feet, broken cogs evoke the sorry state of industry. Following the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine by Germany in 1871, new customs regulations intended to reduce German exports severely hamstrung production in the region. Until then for the most part directed at the French market, now commerce as a whole was under threat. In reaction, a number of businesses, such as the Villard et Weil toy company – the creator of a parlour game entitled ‘the astronomical clock of Strasbourg cathedral’ – preferred to up sticks and move to the other side of the Vosges. Others, like the Herrenschmidt tannery and a number of breweries, kept on a branch in Alsace, but established outposts in France. Such relocations, sometimes the fruit of patriotic sentiment, made for serious economic repercussions. Splitting the firm up meant that employees and workmen unwilling to leave their native land could keep their jobs, while those opting to depart would have work in France. Signed Bartholdi, the elaborate and unusual object in silver-plated bronze serves as a reminder of the concerns of industrialists at the time. It was presented by the organisation representing industry in Basse-Alsace to its head, Gustave Bergmann, who fought tooth and nail to palliate the effects of the customs dues and to obtain deferments before full implementation of the new regulations was enforced. The pragmatic Bergmann belonged to the ‘autonomists’ anxious to preserve local interests in what was then ‘German’ Alsace.

The parlour game ‘The astronomical clock of Strasbourg cathedral’ sold by Villard et Weil, between 1870 and 1914.

On the map


Chambre de Commerce, Place Gutenberg

The statue by Bartholdi was given to Gustave Bergmann, one-time director of the Chamber of Commerce, which, since 1792, had occupied (at the time with the name Hôtel du Commerce) the former annexe of the Pfalz built by Jean Schoch in 1582–85. —76—

1880 The plan drawn up by Conrath for extending the city is adopted.


1881 Founding of the Rhin et Moselle insurance company. Creation of the Sogénal bank.

1883 Building of the new central railway station. Health insurance law comes into force.

German eagle from the Rhine bridge


The Hohenzollern eagle

The Strasbourg-Basel train was inaugurated in 1841, followed by the Strasbourg-Paris train in 1852. In 1861 a scheme was unveiled to further trade and passenger transport to Germany. With this bridge thrown over the river, the railway became a Europe-wide phenomenon. Care was taken, however, to provide the structure with a revolving section with which transit between the two countries could be halted – a policy put into effect during the bombardment of 1870. On the Alsatian side, the works concluded in 1880 with the placing of a cast-iron emblem atop the entrance: the imperial eagle. On the other side of the Rhine, the bridge was adorned by the griffon of the state of Baden. Thus, on both sides, the two very different governments of the two provinces were both symbolised by birds. Unlike the German provinces that enjoyed constitutions of their own and were still ruled by princes or kings, after 1871 Alsace-Lorraine found itself absorbed into the Empire, with the result that it was placed directly under the authority of the Emperor, represented by a Statthalter. The armorial bearings of the Hohenzollern borne by the imperial eagle encapsulate the unusual fate of the region. A number of official buildings of the time are emblazoned by these coats of arms, sometimes surmounted by the imperial crown. The bearings even appeared on air vents, the sheet-metal eagle in the museum being one example. The Baden griffon is today in the museum at Kehl.

Eagle cut out of sheet metal, after 1870.

Pont du Rhin

(not on map)

This eagle was placed on the Strasbourg side atop the old railroad bridge built in 1861, shelled in 1870 and rebuilt on the same spot in 1880. This bridge across the Rhine was reduced to rubble in September 1944, when the Wehrmacht blew it up as the Alsace-Lorraine brigade was heading north to Alsace. —77—

Gaetano Pesce, Model for the Bridge of the European Union, 1989.


The twelve countries of the EEC in 1989.

Recording studio of the Franco-German TV station (architect Michel Gomez).

The greenhouse (architect Michel Gomez).



Flag of the Liberation of Strasbourg sewn by Émilienne Lorentz, 23 November 1944.

In the centre, an Ariane rocket stands next to the Museum and the University of Space (architect Francis Parent).


Index of names

Les numéros en "gras" renvoient aux pages des reproductions.

  A Adam, Alphonse Schiltigheim, 1918 – Strasbourg, 1943.....100, 101 Anthès, Jean-Henri d’ Weinheim, 1670 – Oberbruck, 1733.....52

Brant, Sébastien Strasbourg, 1457–1521.....26 Braun, Karl-Ferdinand Fulda, 1850 – New York, 1918.....78 Brendel, Reinhold c. 1861–1927.....68

Arbogast (saint) died in 618.....6

Brendel, Robert c. 1821–1898.....68

Arcimboldo, Giuseppe Milan, c. 1527–1593.....31

Broutta, Jules Strasbourg, 1841 – Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, 1916.....75

Arp, Jean Strasbourg, 1887 – Basel, 1966.....89   B

Brunfels, Otto Mainz, 1488 – Bern, 1534.....31

Back, Otto Kirchberg, 1834 – Strasbourg, 1917.....78, 88

Bubendorff, Michel Sierentz, 1955.....107

Baeyer, Adolf von Berlin, 1835 – Starnberg, Bavaria, 1917.....78

Bucer, Martin Sélestat, 1491 – Cambridge, 1551.....26

Baldner, Leonard Strasbourg, 1612–1694.....21

Bugatti, Ettore Milan, 1881 – Paris, 1947.....89

Bartholdi, Frédéric-Auguste Colmar, 1834 – Paris, 1904.....67, 76


Bary, Heinrich Anton de Frankfurt-am-Main, 1831 – Strasbourg, 1888.....78

Cagliostro, Joseph Balsamo, known as Alessandro di, count Palermo, 1743 – San Leo, near Rimini, 1795.....53

Baur, Hans Constance, 1829–1897.....67

Cagniard de Latour, Charles Paris, 1777 – 1859.....69

Baur, Léon habitant de Cronenbourg, xxe siècle.....100

Calvin, Jean Noyon, Oise, 1509 – Geneva, 1564.....26, 27

Beaumarchais, Pierre Augustin Caron de Paris, 1732–1799.....55

Capiton, Wolfgang Haguenau, 1478 [?] – Strasbourg, 1541.....26

Berger, François: sword-maker in Strasbourg, second half of the 18th century 52

Carl, Théodore Strasbourg, 1837–1904.....65, 72

Bergmann, Gustave Strasbourg, 1816–1891.....76 Bertat cabinetmaker, mentioned in the archives in 1813.....66 Blaschka, Leopold Český Dub, 1822 – Dresden-Hosterwitz, 1895.....69 Blaschka, Rudolf Český Dub, 1857 – Dresden-Hosterwitz, 1939.....69 Biennais, Martin-Guillaume La Cochère, Orne, 1764 – Paris, 1843.....60 Birirg, Joseph ancien prisonnier à Tambov.....101 Bismarck, Otto von Schönhausen, 1815 – Friedrichsruh, 1898.....86 Blondel, Jacques-François Rouen, 1705 – Paris, 1774.....54

Cerf Berr, Heinz de Medelsheim, known as Medelsheim, 1726 – Strasbourg, 1793.....42, 55 Charlemagne 742 or 747 – Aachen, 814.....30 Charles II the Bald Frankfurt-am-Main, 823 – Avrieux, 877.....6 Charles X Versailles, 1757 – Görz, today Gorizia, 1836.....70 Cohn, Willy Strasbourg, 1886 – still living in Strasbourg in 1925.....85 Conrath, Jean Geoffroy Strasbourg, 1824–1892.....77, 79, 86 Cotte, Robert de Paris, 1656–1735.....51, 53 Coulaux, Jacques Huningue, 1762 – Strasbourg, 1834.....52 Crookes, William London, 1832 – Notting Hill, 1919.....69

Boutet, Nicolas-Noël Paris, 1761–1833.....71


This guide was produced by the Éditions des Musées de la Ville de Strasbourg. Authors and editors: Monique Fuchs and Sylviane Hatterer Editorial coordination: Lize Braat and Giorgia Passaro Graphic design: Erwan Chouzenoux Photoengraving: Les Artisans du regard Rewriting: Véronique Borg Copy-editing: Sylvie Bellu English version Translation: Bernard Wooding Copy-editing and proofreading: Chrisoula Petridis Picture credits Mathieu Bertola, Musées de la Ville de Strasbourg, sauf : p. 53: DRAC Alsace, Service des patrimoines p. xx: Le Chaînon manquant Cover: Photo (C) Ministère de la Culture Médiathèque du Patrimoine, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Maurice Thaon Map of Strasbourg : GCT-CUS 2014 For the present edition: © Éditions des Musées de Strasbourg, 2015 and the authors Distribution: Le Seuil-Volumen Legal deposit: February 2015 ISBN: 9782351251218

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced with prior permission from the publisher. Printed in February 2015 by Cassochrome, Belgium.

The Musée Historique de la Ville de Strasbourg

Strasbourg, a frontier city with a rich and turbulent history and today a symbol of European peace, has always been at the crossroads of cultures, ideas and people from diverse backgrounds. The 2,000 works and objects belonging to the Musée Historique de la Ville de Strasbourg recount the incidents that have marked this eventful history. This guide provides an insight into this emblematic collection and the places in present-day Strasbourg that bear the traces of history. With • 100 objects and works to admire in the Musée Historique de la Ville de Strasbourg • a map of Strasbourg, enabling you to locate the objects in the streets of the city • a timeline, enabling you to place the exhibits in their historical context • a list of addresses, enabling you to discover the vestiges of the past in the present-day city

The Musée Historique in around 1947–1950 (jacket) and in 2015 (cover).


17 €

The Musée Historique de la Ville de Strasbourg

From City to Museum: Exploring Strasbourg’s History

The Musée Historique de la Ville de Strasbourg. From City to Museum: Exploring Strasbourg's History  

Strasbourg, a frontier city with a rich and turbulent history and today a symbol of European peace, has always been at the crossroads of cul...

The Musée Historique de la Ville de Strasbourg. From City to Museum: Exploring Strasbourg's History  

Strasbourg, a frontier city with a rich and turbulent history and today a symbol of European peace, has always been at the crossroads of cul...