There are many different museums in Bamberg and one of the lesser known ones is the University of Bamberg Museum of Islamic Art right in the city center.
About the Museum
Would you expect one of the biggest global collections of Islamic metalwork is hosted in the Islamic Museum in Bamberg? Well, it is.
In various glass cases you can have a close look at delicate metal vases, plates and ornaments from eastern Iran (Khurasan) dating back to the 6th to 13th centuries. In total, there are 7000 objects! But it’s not just metal. There are ceramics, glass, woodwork and manuscripts on display as well.
The reason he chose Bamberg as the headquarters for the collection was the Institute of Oriental at the University.
The reason why it’s also known as Bumiller Collection is that it was collected by businessman Manfred Bumiller (1928-2018). He didn’t even have a background in Islamic Art but quickly started building his knowledge.
The museum itself was officially opened as the “The Bumiller Collection of Early Islamic Art” on 13 January 1995, which is now run by the Bumiller Art Foundation.
Even though the house has a total of 7 floors from cellar to attic, the museum and public access is limited to two levels, where it also is merged with the neighbouring house.
The Islamic art museum is located in Bamberg’s moden city center.
When you come off the market street Grüner Markt, you turn into the street Jesuitenstraße and turn left into the small alley Hasengasse.
On the building to your right you can see the logo for the Bumiller Collection and the entrance.
About the building
The historic building in which the Museum of Islamic Art is hosted is fascinating in and of itself.
I got to have a tour and see places that are typically off limits for visitors during the Day of the Open Monument in Bamberg 2023. So I wanted to share a little bit.
Middle Ages & Renaissance
The building dates back to 1321 and completely burned to the ground in 1584.
The house was restored in the Renaissance, elements of which you can still see in the cellar and the first floor on the street level. The cellar is still mostly like it was in the 16th century, when meat and beverages were stored.
Its strategic location made it the perfect spot for a storage building for flour and grains. From one side, the flour merchants had easy access to the main markets of the city. And the other side was still directly open towards the harbour at that time.
Under the roof, there were four levels for grain storage. (Today, it’s the archive for the museum.) The entire attic has 130 square meters.
Its purpose was changed to a residential abode in the 18th century. Decorative stairs, painted elements and beautiful ornaments were added along the ceilings and walls.
Fun fact: The stuccor master Johann Jakob Vogel also furnished the entire region with his creations, including the church at Vierzehnheiligen in Bad Staffelstein.
Two ballrooms were also prepared out of the halls and it must have looked so fancy and gorgeous.
Sadly, taste changed quickly and the nostalgia to preserve history wasn’t there, so most of the stuccor, decorations and even room dimensions were completely erased over time. In the early 90s and recent years, many of these elements were rediscovered and partially exposed.
Original elements you can still see are the stone floors from the 18th century, windows
If you look closely, you can see on the ceilings, where the room divisions were erected. And in the former ballroom, the ceiling paintings still show the incision create grip for new paintings.
In the 19th century, a bakery and oven room was added. And its heat was so strong, there was a huge dent in the wall from the oven. And you can even see the oven door hung from the wall in the inner courtyard.