Il Rosgarten Museum di Costanza

Lisa Foege, curator and associate of the Rosgarten Museum’s management


English version

Museum In A Guild House: The Rosgarten Museum Constance

The Rosgarten Museum, a museum of regional history and culture, is an attractive cultural beacon in the heart of Europe. With its exhibitions, publications and events, it is able to boost local identity. Furthermore, the museum introduces the history, art and culture of Constance and its region to guests from all over the world, highlighting historical and cultural developments from past to present.

A “Museum in A Museum”

The ancient guild house for butchers, shopkeepers, potters, and apothecaries is located in the heart of Constance’s old town. Here, visitors are encouraged to take a step into the past. Having been a public institution for more than 550 years, the building still exudes a mysterious charm. In the almost originally preserved guildhall of the house “Zum Rosgarten”, artisans used to hold their celebrations in the 15th century. Butchers opened their folding shutters to sell medieval fast food across the street; soap makers boiled down animal bones. After the year 1860, the re-established Jewish community set up its first prayer room in this very building. In 1454, the guild house was united with an older house. After the guilds were stripped of their power, the building was used as tavern, barracks, and choir rehearsal room. City life was vibrant here. At the end of the 1860s, Constance, in a liberal upbeat mood, tore down the last remnants of the medieval city wall. Councillor Ludwig Leiner, apothecary, collector of natural history items and scion of a patrician merchant family, decided to set up a museum for his home town. The city council consigned the ancient guild house to the avid antiquity collector. Here, Leiner founded the Rosgarten Museum in 1870. In this modern museum of regional history, taking account of local and foreign demand for descriptive information and artistic “edification”, the permanent exhibition is oriented along historical narrative threads. It deals with Constance’s history as imperial diocesan town, its Swiss border and its changing destinies in an international region. The daily lives of a medieval council menial or a fisher maiden are as vividly illustrated as the basics of an imperial city’s constitutional history, the Council of Constance, or highlights of the important Southern-German reformation.

Living Middle Ages

The historic guildhall constitutes the museum’s “front parlour”. In the Middle Ages, members and guests of the Rosgarten guild used it as tavern and meeting room. Armorial bearings of the Swabian League and patrician families adorn the wood-panelled walls. The embedded cabinet panes date back to the 17th century; they are masterpieces of glass art. One of the most outstanding testimonies of Constance’s history is the Richental Chronicle. The Constance manuscript of 1464 is displayed in the guildhall. In this richly illustrated chronicle, citizen Ulrich Richental documented events that took place in his hometown between 1414 and 1418 at the Council of Constance. On large-size paper pages, the chronicler told in his Upper German Alemannic dialect about important events and small everyday occurrences. Five illustrators enhanced the narrations with coloured pen and ink drawings.

The adjacent so-called medieval hall holds distinguished medieval art. As diocesan centre, Constance was an important patron of local painters and sculptors. Some of the displayed religious panels come from the Constance workshops of Peter Murer and Rudolf Stahel. The so-called Blarer donator plaque is also assigned to Stahel’s workshop. It commemorates an important family of benefactors, who founded the Almshouse of Constance. The panel depicts the death of Mary. Christ and the apostles stand near Mary’s deathbed. In the foreground, the donator kneels next to the dying woman’s slippers. His coat of arms and the accompanying inscription tag him as a member of the patrician Blarer family of Constance. Next to an altar of the Virgin and Child with St. Anne and other religious panels, the collection shows the portrait of local patrician Heinrich Blarer from the year 1460. Blarer belonged to Constance’s upper class. Like others in town, he was involved in long-distance trade with partners in Upper Italy, Milan, Florence, Venice, and other places.

The 18th and 19th century with their political awakenings, early emigrant flows, Bonapartists at Lake Constance and the onset of industrialisation have also found vivid representation in the permanent exhibition. Due to its special border location, the city of Constance experienced upheavals, conflicts and times of war in a particularly close way. Museum visitors from far and near are most interested in what happened during the Nazi era. In a modern annexe to the museum, a special department is dedicated to the time of National Socialism. It is constantly being expanded by new findings or donations from emigrated Jewish families.

The house still breathes the spirit of museum founder Ludwig Leiner: he himself designed the neo-gothic showcases for the new museum around 1870. Thousands of exhibits lie there side-by-side, in line with the collecting zeal and the all-embracing notion of science in the 19th century. In this historical treasure, objects of geology, palaeontology, and archaeology demonstrate the geological history and the origin of life back to man in the Bronze Age. Impressive fossils from the Jurassic period, findings from the late Ice Age, and a great number of lake dwelling objects from the Neolithic and Bronze Age are of special regional relevance. Today, the so-called “Leiner Hall” on the ground floor is under preservation order as a “museum within a museum”. The thousands upon thousands of archaeological finds, snail shells, stones, and fossils are a great attraction for visitors young and old.

Special exhibitions at the Rosgarten Museum

In addition to the continually updated permanent exhibition, the Rosgarten Museum organizes one special exhibition every year. In the original building or in the old patrician house “Zur Katz” at the Cultural Centre (Kulturzentrum am Münster), which is home to a further exhibition hall, historical or art-historical topics create references to special persons, anniversaries, or events important to the collective memory of the region. These exhibitions and their extensive supporting programmes encourage critical reflection and identity-building analysis of the complex history and present of the Lake Constance area.

From June 28 to December 30, 2018, the Rosgarten Museum presents the special exhibition “Striking Faces – A History of Lake Constance in Portraits, Miniatures, and Early Photography”. With approximately 100 master paintings, charming miniatures and early photographs, the exhibition combines portraits with interesting facts. Noblemen, patricians, ambitious citizens and disputatious democrats introduce themselves. The opulent picture show amusingly demonstrates man’s timeless joy of self-representation.

Insider Tip In Constance

The museum café at the Rosgarten Museum is a true insider tip. Visitors find a cosy café with historic ambience, annexed to the exhibition rooms. It has a stylish atmosphere abundant with pictures from the townscape and historic memories of important locals. Here, visitors can enjoy a tasty cup of coffee or a slice of cake, meet for a chat or follow their own thoughts. The museum café and the charming historic inner courtyard are open to museum visitors as well as to anyone just dropping in. Heartier food is also provided: snacks, beer or wine can be found on the menu as well.


About the author:

Lisa Foege (36), Dr. phil., studied history, sociology as well as arts and media studies at the University of Constance. In 2007: master’s thesis on the history of electricity in Constance. PHD in 2012 with thesis on the Constance “Wessenbergheim”, afterwards research volunteer at the municipal museums of Constance. Since 2015 curator and associate of the Rosgarten Museum’s management.

Sintesi in lingua italiana

Il fine del Museo Rosgarten di storia e cultura regionale, è rafforzare l’identità locale illustrando la storia, l’arte e la cultura di Costanza, e della sua regione, ai visitatori provenienti da tutto il mondo. L’antica casa delle corporazioni dei macellai, bottegai, vasai e farmacisti si trova nel cuore del centro storico di Costanza. All’interno di questo edificio, che ha ospitato per oltre 550 anni un’istituzione pubblica e che trasuda ancora oggi un fascino misterioso, i visitatori hanno la possibilità di fare un salto nel passato. Dopo che le gilde furono spogliate del loro potere, l’edificio fu usato come taverna, caserma e sala prove del coro. La nascita del museo si deve al consigliere Ludwig Leiner. Farmacista, collezionista di oggetti di storia naturale e rampollo di una famiglia di mercanti patrizi, egli decise infatti di creare un museo per la sua città natale e ottenne come sede, dal consiglio comunale, l’antica casa delle corporazioni dove, nel 1870, aprì il Rosgarten Museum. La mostra permanente illustra la storia della città diocesana imperiale di Costanza soffermandosi sia sui grandi eventi (come ad esempio il Concilio) sia sui piccoli eventi della vita quotidiana. La sede delle corporazioni storiche costituisce il “salotto” del museo.  uesto ambiente, nel Medioevo, era utilizzato come taverna e come sala riunioni. Gli stemmi della lega sveva e delle famiglie patrizie adornano le pareti rivestite in legno. Una delle più importanti testimonianze della storia di Costanza è la Richental Chronicle. In questa cronaca riccamente illustrata, il cittadino Ulrich Richental documentò gli eventi che si svolsero nella sua città natale tra il 1414 e il 1418.

Sulle grandi pagine di questa cronaca l’autore ha narrato i grandi e piccoli eventi quotidiani che sono stati poi illustrati da cinque artisti mediante disegni a penna e ad inchiostro colorato. L’adiacente cosiddetta sala medievale conserva una collezione di opere d’arte medievale. In quanto centro diocesano, Costanza era sede di importanti mecenati di pittori e scultori locali. Alcuni dei pannelli di soggetto sacro esposti in museo provengono dai laboratori di Costanza di Peter Murer e Rudolf Stahel. La cosiddetta placca del donatore Blarer, attribuita alla bottega di Stahel, celebra un’importante famiglia di benefattori, che fondò l’ospizio di Costanza, e raffigura la morte di Maria: Cristo e gli apostoli sono rappresentati accanto al letto di morte della Vergine mentre, in primo piano, spicca la presenza del donatore inginocchiato.

Lo stemma e l’iscrizione ci permettono di identificarlo come un membro dell’importante, nobile e ricca famiglia Blarer alla quale apparteneva anche il mercante Heinrich Blarer (attivo nel commercio con molte città italiane come Milano, Firenze e Venezia). Nell’esposizione permanente trovano spazio però anche gli eventi politici del XVIII e il XIX secolo, i primi flussi di emigrati, i bonapartisti sul Lago di Costanza. Grazie alla sua particolare posizione di confine, la città di Costanza ha vissuto sconvolgimenti e conflitti in tempo di guerra: i visitatori interessati a ciò che è accaduto durante l’epoca nazista possono trovare informazioni relative a questo periodo all’interno di un dipartimento speciale costantemente ampliato da nuove scoperte o donazioni da parte di famiglie ebree emigrate. Al piano terra, nella “Leiner Hall”, si trova una specie di museo nel museo. Si tratta di un ambiente in cui si può percepire ancora lo spirito del fondatore del museo poiché qui sono esposte, all’interno di vetrine neogotiche progettate direttamente da Leiner, i migliaia di oggetti da lui raccolti nel corso del tempo: oggetti di geologia, paleontologia e archeologia, gusci di lumache, pietre e fossili, solo per fare qualche esempio, che testimoniano dello zelo collezionistico onnicomprensivo tipico del XIX secolo.

Mostre speciali al Rosgarten Museum

Oltre alla mostra permanente continuamente aggiornata, il Rosgarten Museum organizza ogni anno una mostra speciale che mira ad incoraggiare la riflessione critica e l’analisi dell’identità della complessa storia dell’area del Lago di Costanza. Dal 28 giugno al 30 dicembre 2018, il Rosgarten Museum presenta la mostra “Striking Faces – Una storia del lago di Costanza in ritratti, miniature e fotografia antica”. Con circa 100 dipinti, miniature affascinanti e fotografie, la mostra unisce ritratti a fatti storici interessanti: i soggetti sono nobili, patrizi e cittadini ambiziosi ma la protagonista della mostra è la volontà senza tempo dell’uomo di autorappresentarsi.

Come raggiungere il museo


Municipal Museums of Constance

Rosgarten Museum

Director: Dr. Tobias Engelsing

Rosgartenstr. 3 – 5     78462 Konstanz

Tel: 0049 (0)7531 / 900-245  Facebook: RosgartenmuseumKonstanz

Instagram: #rosgartenmuseum

Opening Hours:

Tuesday through Friday: 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Saturdays, Sundays, holidays: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.



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