Two museums in Stralsund about to reopen

Behind the scenes at St. Catherine's Monastery

Published: May 14, 2024

© TMV/Gross

Published: May 14, 2024

With the Meeresmuseum and the Stralsund Museum in the Katharinenkloster, two of the most important museums in Stralsund are currently undergoing extensive modernization. The Meeresmuseum is ahead of schedule - the reopening is planned for summer 2024.

The Katharinenkloster is located in the heart of the UNESCO-protected old town of the Hanseatic city of Stralsund

Hanseatic City of Stralsund

at sunrise

„No one need fear that they will no longer recognize their beloved maritime museum“, says Andreas Tanschus, Director of the German Maritime Museum, „that is very important to us. We have made sure that not only everything is designed in a contemporary way, but that this first comprehensive modernization since the seventies takes into account that the guests can continue to see their beloved exhibits - just in a completely new splendor.“ The museum has been closed since the end of 2020. It will reopen in July 2024 – ümostly barrier-free – in time for the summer season.

Floor-to-ceiling installations of marine animals

A great day for Stralsund, which not only Andreas Tanschus and the entire team at the maritime museum are looking forward to with great joy: „With Stuttgart-based Büro Reichel Schlaier Architekten, we were able to carefully modernize the listed rooms of the wonderful Katharinenkloster and add a connecting building between the foyer and exhibitions, a large aquarium and several urgently needed functional rooms„, reports Tanschus, „that was a really challenging task. Building in such a narrow old town situation in the middle of a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a very special challenge.“ The large panes for the spectacular new aquarium building, for example, were delivered from Japan and maneuvered through Stralsund's city center with a heavy-duty transporter in millimeter work. And that is just one of the logistical feats that the team had to accomplish in almost four years of modernization.

What can guests who visit the Oceanographic Museum in July 2024 expect? More light, new splendor and cutting-edge exhibitions: When entering the Katharinenhalle through the west portal, the view extends from the first floor up into the vault of the nave. The entrance installation „Sardine Run“ provides the first „aha moment“. Original-sized models of sharks, dolphins, sea birds and other sea creatures chase a multimedia-staged swarm of sardines. A large-scale installation for which the exhibition team has used the entire height of the room.

New attractions and old acquaintances

No other museum in Germany is dedicated to the topic of seas and oceans as comprehensively as the German Oceanographic Museum. Its unique selling point is the combination of scientifically based exhibitions with lovingly designed aquariums on the various habitats. Within medieval walls, the museum presents its exhibitions and aquariums in a unique setting. Another well-known highlight is the free-hanging, 15-meter-long fin whale skeleton in the choir of the former monastery church. The animal, which was found off the coast of Rüuuml;gen in 1825, will continue to play a central role in the exhibition area on marine mammals after the modernization of the museum as a testimony to the beginnings of German whale research.

The new exhibitions at the Meeresmuseum tell the story of the cradle of life in the sea, the relationship between humans and the sea and the diversity of life in the oceans. Original exhibits and models are supplemented digitally. An old acquaintance also hovers beneath the vault of the church hall. A globe measuring a good two meters, which used to greet guests in the foyer, now shows the oceanography and ocean currents of our water planet in digital form. The new starting point for the aquarium tour of the tropical seas is also spectacular: a large aquarium with a capacity of 700,000 liters of water shows a Caribbean reef and leads the guests on to the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the popular turtle tank.

A museum that looks like a church? No wonder: it has found its home in a former monastery, © TMV/Gross
Fish market? Not at all: to protect the precious fin whale skeleton - the animal was discovered off the coast of Rügen back in 1825 - it was first packed in opaque packaging, © Anke Neumeister
Unveiled - this is what the fin whale skeleton really looks like in the choir of the former monastery church - a highlight of the exhibition, © Anke Neumeister

Restoration uncovers old paintings

The museum right next door, formerly known as the Stralsund Museum of Cultural History, is just as spectacular. It is the oldest museum in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, having been founded in 1858 by the then „Kunstverein für Neuvorpommern und Rügen“. What was already evident in the Meeresmuseum also applies to this building: The late Gothic St. Catherine's Monastery in Stralsund's old town is itself a cultural and historical treasure, regardless of the exhibits in the respective museums.

The main building of the Stralsund Museum has been undergoing extensive renovation and restoration since 2019, the first in 70 years. „I am very much looking forward to the result“, says Director Dr. Maren Heun: „We will open a museum that will commemorate 6,000 years of trade, exchange and diversity in the Baltic Sea region in a variety of ways and convey a comprehensive impression of the rich history of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Hanseatic city of Stralsund.This also includes the uncovering and restoration of the historic wall and ceiling paintings of St. Catherine's Monastery, which were previously not visible to the public.

Successful treasure hunt: many of the wall and ceiling paintings were only uncovered during the restoration work, © TMV/Gross
A picturesque mix of styles: the Kataharinenkloster monastery in Stralsund also looks back on an eventful architectural past. The inner courtyard will be freely accessible independently of the museum visit., © TMV/Gross
Gold that shines: The gold jewelry was made around 1000 years ago and is one of the most important jewelry ensembles of the Viking Age, © J. Grudziecki/STRALSUND MUSEUM

World-famous Viking gold in the Stralsund Museum

Stralsund is home to the largest cultural history museum collection in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with around 450,000 objects. „After the restoration of the museum and its conversion, we can finally present our splendid exhibits in a contemporary way“, says museum director Heun. One of the highlights of the future barrier-free tour will definitely be the world-famous Viking gold. These are valuable archaeological finds from the region. The filigree jewelry was made around a thousand years ago and is one of the most important jewelry ensembles from the Viking Age.

„But in addition to the Viking gold, there are of course many other exhibits that are close to our hearts, which sometimes stand a little in its shadow: The 700-year-old paraments of the Stralsund clergy, for example, are worth seeing for their craftsmanship and history alone. But that also applies to our Bronze Age Langendorf gold bowls from the museum's archaeological collection," says Maren Heun, "I would rate their importance just as highly as, for example, the Nebra Sky Disk, which is on display in the State Museum in Halle an der Saale. I am looking forward to being able to show all these treasures in Stralsund again soon.

Experience Stralsund

To the map
© STRALSUND MUSEUM

Museum house Stralsund

  • Open today
  • Mönchstraße, 18439 Stralsund

The 700-year-old museum house has been part of the STRALSUND MUSEUM since its renovation by the German Foundation for Monument Protection. Here, Hanseatic history can be experienced up close from the cellar to the roof of the old merchant's and grocer's house. The history of the building and its use has been restored and documented in great detail. A must for every visit to the old town of Stralsund, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002.

Read more: "Museum house Stralsund"
© Anke Neumeister/Deutsches Meeresmuseum

OZEANEUM Stralsund

  • Open today
  • Hafenstraße, 18439 Stralsund

With its five exhibitions and 46 aquariums, the OZEANEUM Stralsund invites you on an extraordinary underwater journey beneath the northern seas. Visit Humboldt penguins on the roof terrace, "Niki" the female sand tiger shark in the 2.6-million-litre pool "Open Atlantic" and the giants of the sea - real life replicas of whales.

Read more: "OZEANEUM Stralsund"
© Anke Neumeister/Deutsches Meeresmuseum

SEA MUSEUM Stralsund

  • Temporarily closed
  • Katharinenberg, 18439 Stralsund

The MEERESMUSEUM in Stralsund's old town is currently closed. The museum is expected to open in 2024 after extensive modernization work.

Read more: "SEA MUSEUM Stralsund"
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