The Füssen Heritage Museum is situated in the south-west wing of the former Benedictine Monastery of St Mang, which was built under the architect Johann Jakob Herkomer from early 18th century Venetian examples and, together with the Hohes Schloss, constitutes one of the main features of Füssen’s townscape.
The former cells of the Benedictine monks house valuable works of art and archaeological finds from the over 1000-year history of this former abbey, which was not only the spiritual center but also the focal point of government and culture in the Füssen area. The medieval cloister that was uncovered below the baroque corridors also provide an insight into the medieval epoch of the history of the Monastery of St Mang. One of the finest collections in Europe of historical lutes and violins recalls Füssen’s importance as the cradle of the commercial manufacture of lutes in Europe. Here in the town on the River Lech the firs European lute-makers’ guild was founded in the 16th century, and up into the 19th century the town produced renowned violin-makers. In addition to the lutes and violins from the 17th to 19th centuries, the Munich master violin-maker Karl Leonhardt donated the equipment of his workshop which documents the various stages in the production process of a violin.
One of the museum’s highlights is the monastery’s magnificently decorated baroque halls: the Prince’s Hall, created under the architect Andrea Maini; the library and the refectory beneath it with sculptures by Anton Sturm; the domed Colloquium with frescoes by the Kempten court painter Franz Georg Hermann; the Chapter Hall with the only extant oil paintings by Paul Zeiller, which depict the Benedictine daily saints. In the Anna Chapel, converted into baroque style under Herkomer, the Füssen Dance of Death by Jakob Hiebeler (1602) can be viewed, the oldest Dance of Death cycle still preserved in Bavaria. A further section of the museum houses an historical miller’s room with richly ornamented wooden paneling and an exhibition on the town’s history entitled “Emerging into Modernity”.