How important has the Peace of Westphalia been for Münster over the centuries? Which anniversaries were celebrated and how? And: How did National Socialism deal with the topic? These are the questions central to the exhibition at the Stadtmuseum entitled: “A reason to celebrate? Münster and the Peace of Westphalia“. Thus, the view is directed in a special way on the city and its handling of this defining event. The exhibition is one of five exhibitions devoted to the Peace.Europe project.
The exhibition also contains exhibits and background information on the Peace of Westphalia itself and the corresponding negotiations. It is exciting to learn, for example, that the event only gained importance for Münster fairly late. It was not until 1898 that it received attention in commemorations or monuments.
During National Socialism, an exhibition on the Peace of Westphalia was also planned, but with a different connotation: in this context, the “forced peace” with France was to be shown as something that had to be overcome.
When the 300th anniversary was finally due in 1948, fortunately other circumstances prevailed: The war was over and Münster celebrated the beginning of a sustainable European peace in a destroyed city.
Personal highlights of the exhibition
An impressive work in the exhibition is the painting by Fritz Grotemeyer, who illustrated the peace negotiations in Münster City Hall between 1895 and 1902. Although he painted the traditional figures with historical precision, he replaced their heads with city personalities of his time. In the exhibition, the people in the painting can be interactively addressed by a beam of light and one learns something about the portrayed idol of the city of Münster.
I particularly liked an exhibit that is only marginally part of the theme. After I learned on the guided tour of Münster that the French representative Henri II d’Orléans-Longueville was married to the world’ s most beautiful woman of the time, I was very pleased to find a portrait of her in the city museum. Very intriguing, what the ideal of beauty was like!
Rating: ” Highly recommendable”
All in all, I can only recommend a visit to the city museum! A really beautiful and compact exhibition that offers exciting insights and can also be done “as a snack in between”. On my next visit I will definitely take one of the guided tours to discover other aspects of the exhibition that may not have become apparent during my own exploration.
In five accompanying exhibitions with the overall title “Peace. From Antiquity to the Present” the topic is illuminated by the historical significance of the Peace of Westphalia concluded in Münster in 1648. On display are prestigious exhibits from international collections.
WDR coverage of the exhibitions:
Photo: Exterior view of the Münster Stadtmuseum. Picture source: Rena Ronge