The rich Medieval Collection includes some of the museum’s most valuable items and offers an overview of all types of works created at that time in Westphalia: panel paintings and stained glass; sculptures and reliefs made of wood, stone, ivory, and precious metal; and liturgical utensils and vestments.
The origins of the Medieval Collection are closely linked to the history of the museum. In the mid-19th century, the Westphalian Art Association (Westfälischer Kunstverein) and the Westphalian Association for Patriotic History and Antique Research (Verein für vaterländische Geschichte und Altertumskunde Westfalens) began acquiring numerous works from regional churches and monasteries that had been secularised. In 1908, these treasures were transferred to the Provincial Museum newly founded in Münster, some as loans and others as donations, and the collection continued to grow in the following years.
Of particular interest are the permanent loans made by the Museum of the Diocese of Münster (Bischöfliches Diözesanmuseum) that include: the Soest Antependium (oldest panel painting north of the Alps); the elegant portraits of Saint Odile and Saint Dorothea (works by Conrad von Soest, a
famous 14th-century painter born in Dortmund); Saint Luke and the Virgin Mary (a painting by Derick Baegert that invites devout contemplation); the moving Unna Pietà; and lively figures of the Passion and various saints by the Münster sculptors Heinrich and Johann Brabender.
Among the collection’s most remarkable items are also some outstanding medieval goldsmiths’ works, as well as the world-famous Romanesque glass windows by Master Gerlachus that originally adorned the church of Arnstein an der Lahn. These were preserved thanks to the intervention of Baron vom und zum Stein, who also founded the Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (the museum’s umbrella organisation).