The Oberschlesische Landesmuseum (Upper Silesian State Museum) in Ratingen, existing since 1983, is the largest Silesian museum in the western part of Germany. The museum collects objects especially from those parts of Silesia that belong to the Polish Voivodeships Opolskie and Śląskie, as well as to the Czech Republic today. The cultural cooperation with Poland and the Czech Republic is extremely important for the institution.
The foundation Haus Oberschlesien (House of Upper Silesia), established in 1970 as a foundation under private law, is the responsible body of the museum. North Rhine-Westphalia patronized Upper Silesia since 1964 and supports the museum. The museum acts as a connecting link between those two regions by presenting Silesia’s art, culture and history. The foundation and the museum are located in Ratingen. This town is conveniently situated in a conurbation in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The state capital Düsseldorf as well as Essen, the European Capital of Culture 2010, adjoin Ratingen. It is only a short distance to Düsseldorf International Airport. The museum can be easily reached by train from Cologne, Düsseldorf and Essen. The north-southbound motorway A3 and the A52 are located in a 4-kilometres distance. The work of both institutions focuses on the Silesian area along the upper course of the river Oder, the industrial region with its mining and heavy industry, as well as on the regions up to the High Ash Mountains and the Beskids.
Since July 1998 the Oberschlesische Landesmuseum presents its exhibitions in a new building. The location of 2.000 m² paves the way for new ways of presentation. The permanent exhibition can be found on the second floor. It gives a review of UpperSilesia’s culture and history, divided into the three chapters “Upper Silesia before industrialization”, “Upper Silesia and the industry”, and “Upper Silesia in 20th century politics”. Presented are for example maps and historic documents as well as products of art and craft. Precious porcelain, artistic iron casting and textiles are presented in the basement.
The first floor offers room for special exhibitions. Different topics connected with Upper Silesia are presented in graphic and interesting ways. Important people like the well-known zoologist Bernhard Grzimek were presented, and a small African Serengeti was built. Visitors could experience the history of aviation on their own while sitting in real airplanes in the museum. To show how important monasteries were in history and what it meant to live in a convent, the museum itself did turn into a small monastery. In addition to those big exhibitions, smaller exhibitions present the collections of the Polish and Czech partners or the work of UpperSilesian artists.
The next big exhibition will be about aristocracy in Upper Silesia. What is aristocracy? How did the Earls and Lords live and what did they do? Those are just a few questions the exhibition tries to answer. The Prussian King Frederick the Great and the history of mining will be presented in 2012.
The work of the museum is inspired by the idea of international understanding and friendly cross-border neighborhood. Being partners with the provincial government of North Rhine-Westphalia, the museum is an important part of the vivid relationship with the Polish Voivodeship Śląskie. The cooperation between the museum and other cultural institutions in Poland and the Czech Republic are very important parts of the work. Exhibitions are created together and shown in all three countries. The museums support each other with exhibits and knowledge.
A library belongs to the foundation Haus Oberschlesien as well. The Information Center Silesia-Moravia-Bohemia offers precious editions of Silesian authors, complete publications of new Polish almanacs on Upper Silesian cultural institutions, as well as further important material on the region’s culture and economy. The collection’s focus is not only on Silesia’s different provinces, but also on its adjacent regions Bohemia, Moravian and other Polish and Czech regions.
The museum offers guided tours and programmes for school classes and interested groups. People of all ages may take part in special activities which are often offered in the afternoon.
Address and Contact
Stiftung Haus Oberschlesien
Tel.: +49 (0) 2102 / 965 0
Fax: +49 (0) 2102 / 965 400