Musée de l'Œuvre Notre-Dame

The Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame (or Frauenhausmuseum in German) is the city of Strasbourg's museum for Upper Rhenish fine and decorative arts from the early Middle Ages until 1681.

The museum is famous for its rich holdings of original sculptures, glass windows, architectural fragments and building plans of Strasbourg Cathedral, as well as for its considerable collection of works by Peter Hemmel von Andlau, Niclas Gerhaert van Leyden, Nikolaus Hagenauer, Ivo Strigel, Konrad Witz, Hans Baldung and Sebastian Stoskopff.

The Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame had been created to merge under a single roof four thematically related but differently focussed collections of all types of Upper Rhenish art until 1681. It is located in the half-Gothic, half-Renaissance core building of the Fondation de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame and in several early Baroque timber-framed houses surrounding it.

The first documentary evidence of the Strasbourg Fondation de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame dates back to 1281, and it is still responsible for the maintenance of the cathedral. Besides the building plans, which have been saved from the very beginning, they also preserve architectural parts, such as fragments of the choir screen destroyed in 1681 and the originals of the sculptures which were removed or knocked down during the French Revolution and later replaced by copies.

The Société pour la conservation des monuments historiques d’Alsace (Society for the Conservation of the Historical Monuments of Alsace), for their part, had endeavored to rescue the most valuable components and decorations (altars, statues, vessels, tapestries) from churches, cloisters and chapels which had been abandoned to destruction or decay throughout Alsace.

The painting collection of the city, restored by Wilhelm von Bode as of 1890, had also focussed right from the beginning on regional masters, through the donation of the "Portrait of the canon Ambrosius Volmar Keller", a masterpiece of Hans Baldung from the private collection of Wilhelm II. Finally, in the new museum of decorative arts of the city, the "Hohenlohe Museum", works of decorative art from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Early Baroque were also exhibited.

Those four collections, kept in various locations and with various points of concentration, were united in 1931 in the newly founded Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame. In 1956, after the repair of the damage caused by the bombing of Strasbourg during the war in 1944, it was re-opened in an expanded condition.

Besides the cathedral sculptures, glass windows, etc., the collection also boasts valuable components from other Strasbourg churches, such as the Temple Neuf, destroyed in 1870, the Saint-Pierre-le-Vieux Church, renovated in 1867, and the Église Sainte-Madeleine, destroyed by fire in 1904. In addition, the romanesque components (cloister, baptismal font) from Eschau and the stained glass windows from St. Peter and St. Paul's Church, Wissembourg and Mutzig are also important. Furthermore, many late gothic altars are assigned to anonymous masters of the Schongauer School.