Paula Hofherr, 24.03.2022

Ehrwald’s museum of local history

Home to a world of stories

Ehrwald’s museum of local history, located in the freshly renovated ‘Spinnhof,’ aims to give visitors something both to look at and think about.

Who do you think were the people who once filled this lovely building, the ‘Spinnhof,’ with life? Located in the centre of Ehrwald, it has recently become home to the museum of local history. Many years may separate its last dwellers and today’s visitors, but it’s only a short distance from the past to the present. The things you can see in the newly renovated spaces will stimulate the mind and allow your thoughts to wander through time: Whose hands might once have opened these cupboard doors? What did the people sitting on these chairs talk about?

This is very much in keeping with the museum association’s thinking, as director Peter L. Steger says: ‘What we want to do is bring life to the stories that shaped this place and the lives of earlier generations.’ The aim is to ease visitors to Ehrwald’s museum of local history into a journey through time that brings them into contact with those who left their mark here. ‘It’s not about saying, Look at that lovely mirror! Or, What a wonderful carving! We want our visitors rather to reflect on who the last person was to use this comb, say – without ever thinking that it would end up in a museum. Who might have wielded the woodcarving knife? Was it just a pastime or for a hard-earned living? What made him pick this pattern?’

(c) Ehrwalder Heimatmuseum
Every exhibit tells a story

Peter isn’t one for wishful thinking. As only a part of the 850 objects the museum owns in total is on display at any one time, it’s easy to focus. Almost unconsciously, your thoughts wander from the surfaces of the exhibits to their inner souls, and you think, If they could speak! ‘Well, they can,’ says Peter, and not just live in the museum, but also on a virtual web tour for visitors who can’t make it personally.

One major personality at the ‘Spinnhof’ is an artist. Clemens Krauss was the founding conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Concerts. He spent his later years in Ehrwald, where he is also buried. According to the museum director, his collected papers contain plenty of material for new exhibitions. At the same time, Peter is already thinking about other well-known, locally significant contemporaries who could be immortalised in the museum.

‘In with the new’ at Ehrwald’s museum of local history

Peter is convinced that two phrases, combined with each other, perfectly embody Ehrwald’s museum of local history and make it a place to visit again and again: ‘in with the new’ and ‘less is more’.

Just like the exhibits were once part of lived experience, so the museum should also live: ‘We want to see regular changes in our museum, and that’s why we’ll be showing a new special exhibition around once every six months. These exhibitions focus on just a few, very meaningful exhibits,’ says the museum director. ‘Less is more – just a few exhibits, but all the more interest in them. It’s a great way to familiarise visitors with stories from our region’s history.’ And this is why Peter is sure that the museum of local history in Ehrwald will become a top attraction for both guests and locals. This he also finds an invigorating thought, as if there’s an opportunity for people to interact and tell each other stories about how things used to be, the museum will be a wonderful way to connect people on a personal level.

The museum’s message is that you don’t need to set out into the world to satisfy your curiosity – there are treasures enough in the Ehrwald microcosm. Ehrwaldit, for example, an extremely rare type of rock that was pushed up from the earth’s interior as molten basalt millions of years ago. A chapter of earth and local history, just like the prehistoric finds shown in the first special exhibition. It makes you want to go over to the window and call out to the eternal witnesses, the mountains, ‘Tell me about it!’

 

Afterwards, whether you like meat, honey, dumplings, or schnapps, you’ll find regional delicacies at the Ehrwald village store to match the stories told at the museum of local history.

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