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Münster, Germany

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ABOVE: The Landesmusem contains paintings and sculptures from medieval to modern times. INSET BELOW: A World War II bomb shelter at the Villa ten Hompel.

Münster museums

For a city with a population of only 280,000, Münster has an impressive number of museums. The tourist office's Museums in Münster brochure lists nearly three dozen museums of art, history, culture, science, and technology within the city and its suburbs. Here are just a few:

The Landesmuseum (see picture above), more formally known as the Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, has been the city's leading fine-arts museum since 1908. It has art and sculptures from the Middle Ages until modern times, including outstanding collections of religious art, stained-glass windows, and furniture.

The Mühlenhof open-air museum is a delightful collection of farmhouses and other rural buildings from Münsterland in a forested lakeside setting. It's a leisurely walk or a quick drive from the center of town, and you can get there by taking the Aasee excursion boat during summer. (Look for the museum's signature Windmühle or windmill among the trees.)

If you're a fan of modern art, don't miss the Grafikmuseum Pablo Picasso Münster, which opened in 2000. It's the first Picasso museum in Germany, with more than 780 lithographs and a hundred etchings.

One of our own favorite museums in Münster is the Stadtmuseum, or City Museum, which covers the city's history over the millennia and features special displays. (During our visit, the special exhibits included photos from the city's "Bitter Years" of hardship during and after World War II and a 40th anniversary celebration of the first Rolling Stones concert in Münster.)

photoJust outside the ring road, the Villa Ten Hompel has exhibitions about "Police, Administration, and Responsibility," including persecution of Jews during the Nazi era and reparations after the War. (It helps to know at least some German if you're going to visit this museum, which occupies a former police headquarters.)

Other museums include the Leprosy Museum, the Museum of Lacquer Art, the Porcelain Museum, the university's Bible Museum and Botanical Gardens, the Westphalian Railroad Museum, and the Kannen Art Gallery in the Alexianer psychiatric hospital complex.

Next page: Münster hotels and hostels

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