Urban Culture / Ethnology Collection

The Urban Culture and Ethnology Collection owes its existence to the museum's reorientation around 1920, when it shifted its focus from historical events to local history and culture. Since then, the presentation of life in the city has been one of its core purposes.

This extremely extensive collection boasts many valuable items that offer insights into the city’s popular culture from the 18th century right up to the present day. In addition to our permanent exhibitions, “Typically Munich!” and “National Socialism in Munich”, we also mount one-off, special exhibitions. Since the fall of 2010, contemporary urban culture has been added to the collection’s main themes: social issues with a major impact on life in Munich today, such as mobility, migration, precarity, singles, gays and lesbians.

The museum’s Toy section was established as early as 1900. Its most prized exhibits include the original edition of Wilhelm Busch’s "Max und Moritz" from the Munich publisher Braun & Schneider (1865), hand-painted wooden toys based on designs by Richard Riemerschmid (ca. 1900), a doll created by the Munich artist Marion Kaulitz (ca. 1910) and toys made by the artist Ludwig Hohlwein for his children during the Second World War.

The religious artifacts, another key part of the collection, feature valuable individual assemblages relevant to art history. These include objects relating to the cult of Walpurgis, and the “Fatschenkind”, depictions of the enshrined baby Jesus in swaddling clothes based on an 18th century original from Munich (“Augustinerkindl”). The collection of crèches and nativity figurines is also significant, as is the array of wax goods which includes the assets of the famous Munich company Ebenböck with its account books, design portfolios and traditional cookie molds.

Items from the Popular Culture section have enthralled visitors at several exhibitions. “Oktoberfest 1810-2010”, our bicentenary exhibition, presented Munich’s oldest surviving beer barrel dating back to 1829 alongside the Charivari, a decorative chain worn by the former Director of Munich’s Tourism Office, Gabriele Weishäupl, featuring all the beer medallions available at the 1997 Oktoberfest.

Cubicle door from the men’s room at the Atomic Café, circa 1996
Beer pump from the Bauerngirgl inn, circa 1990

The Münchner Stadtmuseum joined forces with students from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich on the project “My Munich. Interventions at the Münchner Stadtmuseum” and offered fresh perspectives on Munich’s history in our “Typically Munich!” permanent exhibition.

In 2012, our “Garden freshness every day!” installation marked the 100th anniversary of Munich’s wholesale market and showed the city in a whole new light – as a commercial hub for the fruit and vegetable trade and a gateway to the south and south-east of Europe.

The 2016 exhibition “MUNICH – POWERED BY BEER”, marking the 500th anniversary of the Beer Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot), explores the important history of beer production and consumption in Munich. In no other major city does the culture of beer seem to be so closely woven into the fabric of its history.

Today the Urban Culture and Ethnology Collection comprises some 40,000 objects focusing on themes like "The Armory," "Relics from the Guilds," "Toys," "Religious Ethnology" and "National Socialism." It also documents everyday work and life in the city under the categories "Households," "Schools", "Popular Prints," and "Holiday and Festival Culture." More recent collection themes include major events like the Olympic Games, world championships, the Pope’s visit to the city, and mass demonstrations.

Bildarchiv

Professional-quality digital image files of the exhibits in the various collections can be obtained from our picture gallery. Please refer to the german Bildarchiv for details.

A selection of portraits from the Münchner Stadtmuseum’s total holding is available in our portrait collection.