The entryway just inside the Unterlinden Museum, with its ticket counter, postcards and audio guides, looks pretty much like the admission into any museum. But then you show your ticket and step through the entrance and you are in the covered walk surrounding the cloister of a thirteenth century Dominican convent. The garden induces an air of peace as you begin to explore the exhibits housed in this museum, whose name means “under the linden trees”. On the ground floor is Medieval art, with the majority of the objects being religious paintings and sculptures from the twelfth to the sixteenth century. Interspersed with the many renditions of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus are a few paintings depicting everyday life or portraits of ordinary people from long ago. In all the gold leaf overlaying the halos of saints and holy beings, you sense that the faith of these ordinary people did not question the divine power overseeing their lives.
By far the most famous exhibit at the Unterlinden is the Isenheim Altarpiece, painted and sculpted by Matthias Grünewald and Niclaus of Haguenau respectively. This work of art from the beginning of the fourteenth century, also located on the ground floor, draws many visitors to the museum each year. On the basement level is the archaeological exhibition, with artifacts from prehistoric to Roman times. The visitor receives a not unpleasant jar while moving from the mosaic room to the modern art exhibit on the same floor, with bright color patterns forming mosaic-like contemporary paintings. On the top level are the galleries housing objects and decorative art from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, as well as fine art from the nineteenth century and folk art. The “English maiden’s room” displays musical instruments such as a harp, spinet, and mandolin. This along with the Gothic Room and Renaissance Room allow you to change century as you pass between the exhibits, absorbing the art of bygone ages.
While visiting Colmar you might want to stay over for a night or two. Find here the best accommodation deals in Colmar.