The History Of The Hildesheim Cathedral Museum

The Hildesheim Cathedral Museum houses one of the world's finest collections of sacred art: the Hildesheim Cathedral Treasury, which forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Exhibition of the Cathedral Museum in the Great Hall

A historic picture depicts the exhibition of the Cathedral Museum in the Great Hall.

As early as the Middle Ages, the Cathedral already boasted several treasuries in which valuable altar vessels and reliquaries were kept and occasionally shown to distinguished guests. Thanks to selected purchases and generous donations of medieval ecclesiastical art by secularised monasteries and endowments in the Hildesheim region, the expansion of the treasury into a museum collection was continued in the 19th century, until Bishop Eduard Jakob Wedekin (1796-1870) finally took the initiative to found a dedicated diocesan museum, otherwise known as today's Cathedral Museum.

The Hildesheim Cathedral after being destroyed in 1945.

The collection rooms were destroyed with the devastation of the Hildesheim Museum on 22 March 1945. The most valuable works of art, however, were brought to safety before the episcopal church was bombed and therefore survived the war unscathed. Despite some heavy losses, this stock was enough to provide a basis upon which the museum could be re-erected.

Only a small portion of the exhibit was showcased in the cathedral treasury which opened in the 1960s. With the addition of new rooms to the former chapter house in 1978, this all changed however, with a larger number of objects now being put on display for visitors.

Special exhibitions, which demonstrate the expansive inventory of the Cathedral Museum, have been held on a regular basis since 1988. The collection itself has grown dramatically since then with the purchase and permanent loan of items from churches and institutions of the diocese. Despite limited space, the Cathedral Museum not only made a name for itself in the coming years by presenting its own inventory, but also by way of hosting widely acclaimed and benchmark-setting temporary exhibitions, such as "Bernward of Hildesheim and the Era of the Ottonain Dynasty" or "Splendour of the Sky. Romanesque Art in Hildesheim".

The museum was closed in 2010 during the restoration of the Hildesheim Cathedral. Important works of art from its inventory have since been shown at various museums, including the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum in Hildesheim, the Bode Museum in Berlin and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.


The Hildesheim baptismal font was one of the prominent pieces of art on display in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.The Cathedral Museum will reopen on 17 April 2015 and once again be accessible to visitors starting 18th April. The Cathedral Museum now has much more room to offer the public access to the internationally renowned cathedral treasury and various other display exhibits from its inventory, both in permanent exhibitions as well as temporary exhibitions.