Cathedral Museum Collection: More Than Just Treasure
Although the Cathedral makes up a central part of the Hildesheim Cathedral Museum, there's much more to it than just this.
In addition to religious works of art from the Middle Ages to the present day, an inventory of high-quality contemporary works could also be amassed, in particular in the area of drawings and sculptures focused on bronze casting. The heart of the collections and the most valuable pieces of the Hildesheim Cathedral Museum are naturally the Cathedral Treasure's works of art, which alongside the Cathedral itself and the St. Michael's Church were rightfully declared part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. For the most part, the Cathedral Treasury encompasses medieval treasury art from the 11th and 13th centuries. The oldest piece – the Foundation Reliquary – dates back to the early 9th century with modifications being made later.
Above all, magnificent manuscripts, reliquaries adorned with pearls and gems and precious utensils, such as chalices, altar crucifixes and candlesticks as well as silk garments for liturgical use, pay testament to the Middle Ages. Many donations were made in particular by Bernward the Bishop of Hildesheim (993–1022). The most famous of which include the Chasuble of Bernward made of golden yellow silk, the large golden Madonna, the large Cross of Bernward as well as the Silver Cross of Bernward, not to mention the Bernward Candleholder from the early 11th century.
The Cathedral inventory boasts much gold and silver-smithing work as well as artfully woven and embroidered velvet and silk vestments primarily from the baroque and rococo periods (17th to 18th century). The large silver antependia (H: 1.00 m, L: 3.00 m), which adorn the front side of the altar are impressive. Artfully completed repoussé work of the Holy Family, the apostles Peter and Paul, garlands of fruit, angels and cartouches can be admired under the five arcades.
Apart from the Cathedral Treasure, the Cathedral Museum is also home to the collections of Bishop Eduard Jakob Wedekin (1796-1870), who mainly collected Gothic art in the parishes of the diocese in the mid-19th century and who is also considered the initiator of the museum as a diocese museum. The collections have been continuously expanded with donations and purchases so that the inventory completely documents the artistic and cultural history of the diocese of Hildesheim as well as its historical roots and religious past.