Until it was disbanded in the course of secularization, the Cistercian Cloister Salem was one of the most powerful and important cloisters in southern Germany. Since a large part of the property was purchased by the state of Baden-Württemberg in 2009, the Badische Landesmuseum is privileged to call valuable objects of art in Schloss Salem its own. With this background, an affiliated museum has been opened in this historic site.
The new exhibition „Masterpieces of the Imperial Abbey“ presents the varied art and construction history of the cloister, founded in 1134, with top-notch exhibits arranged in a chronological progression. Among these are painted panels and construction relics (spoils) from the Middle Ages, historical paintings by the artist Andreas Brugger from Langenargen, and magnificent rococo wood sculptures by Joseph Anton Feuchtmayer.
The absolute show-piece of the Exhibition is the “Salemer Marienaltar” by Bernhard Strigel. Its depiction of the birth of Christ is assumed to be the first night painting in the history of German art. The altar was commissioned in 1507 by Abbot Johannes Scharpfer and was originally emplaced in the Chapel of St. Mary in the cloister.
The new presentation covers about 260 square meters dedicated to the shifting construction history of the abbey. Over the centuries, a catastrophic fire and ambitious construction projects changed the property over and over, adapting to new styles or increasing requirements. A virtual model of the construction phases and projects – created in cooperation between Dr. Ulrich Knapp (Leonberg) and Dr.-Ing. Julian Hanschke (Karlsruhe) – gives an illustration of the constructional changes in the building complex. Reconstructed views of the inside of the Munster are to be seen, which give an idea of the former convent.