From the Residenz to the Bier- und Oktoberfest Museum: Munich’s city centre is a paradise for those who love special museums, some of which can be combined on a short walk.
Munich’s city centre is brimming with museums and exhibition spaces that are as diverse as the city itself. If you're not sure which one to choose, you can combine a visit to several museums with a leisurely stroll – always passing the city's most important sights.
With so many top-class attractions, where do you start? The best place is the Residenz. It is the first destination for visitors interested in the history of the Wittelsbach rulers. The estate on Residenzstrasse was their domicile and seat of government.
Highlights include the Grottenhof and Antiquarium from the Renaissance, the Baroque Imperial Hall, the magnificent Rich Rooms from the Rococo period, and the Neoclassical apartment of King Ludwig I. In the Cuvilliés Theatre, designed by architect François Cuvilliés, Mozart's opera "Idomeneo" was premiered in 1781. The palace treasury contains around 1500 exhibits, including the crown insignia of the Bavarian kings.
Palais Toerring-Jettenbach, also known as the Old Main Post Office, is located on Max-Joseph-Platz, directly opposite the Königsbau, an addition to the Residence. The gate between the arcades of the building leads to the Espace Louis Vuitton. There, the exhibitions on contemporary artists are always well worth seeing and free of charge. The Espace draws on the holdings of the "Fondation Louis Vuitton" in Paris. It was founded by one of the richest men in the world, Bernard Arnault, CEO of Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVHM) and an avid art collector.
In Munich, it just takes ten minutes to switch from a mountain feeling in the Alpine Museum to luxury in Maximilianstrasse.
Just a stone's throw away, you stand in front of the Kunsthalle München in Theatinerstrasse - one of the leading exhibition houses in Germany. Three exhibitions are presented here every year. The temporal spectrum ranges from prehistory and early history to the immediate present. Art and cultures from all over the world are presented: whether in the form of paintings, sculpture, graphic art, photography, arts and crafts or design. The exhibitions are always exciting and change three to four times a year.
Between the Kunsthalle and the Münchner Stadtmuseum lies a ten-minute walk along Weinstraße and Marienplatz. Incidentally, here, in the tower of the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), is the Spielzeugmuseum (Toy Museum), where adults can look back on their childhood and children are wide-eyed at toys made of wood and tin as well as dolls.
From Marienplatz, the tour continues via Rindermarkt to Sankt-Jakobs-Platz (square). The historic buildings located here house the Münchner Stadtmuseum. “Typically Munich” is the title of the core collection, which illustrates Munich’s history on the basis of selected objects. 2023 is the last exhibition year of the Münchener Stadtmuseum before the general renovation, which will take several years. The exhibitions and events will then be moved to various other places in Munich.
Directly opposite, on Sankt-Jakobs-Platz, is an important testimony to reconciliation and integration. In 2006, the Hauptsynagoge (main Jewish synagogue) Ohel Jakob, the Jewish community centre and the Jüdische Museum with insights into Munich's Jewish history and culture opened here. The permanent presentation "Stimmen_Orte_ Zeiten" provides new impulses and information on Munich's Jewish history and present and invites dialogue. Changing exhibitions on two further levels show new aspects of art, history and culture.
Back in the Fußgängerzone (pedestrian zone), in the Jagd- und Fischereimuseum (hunting and fishing museum), taxidermied animals in their habitats and the legendary wolpertinger are an attraction for fans of hunting and fishing. In 2015, a wildlife biology area was also opened, featuring a forest nature trail that takes visitors on an interactive discovery of the living world of wild animals.
In the heart of the old town, only a few minutes away from the Fußgängerzone, the first Museum of Urban Art (MUCA) in Germany opened at the end of 2017 in a former substation of the public utility company. Here, street art is presented "museum-ready" and the representatives of this art form are put in the spotlight in changing exhibitions. A highlight is the adjoining one-star restaurant Mural, which serves sustainable products from the region.
How about a walk eastwards to whet your thirst for beer? At the Isartor (gate), the Bier- und Oktoberfest Museum in one of Munich’s oldest buildings (14th century) takes you on a journey through the world of beer, brewing, beer barons and the Oktoberfest.
On the other side of the Isartor, the quirky and original Valentin-Karlstadt-Musäum (museum) awaits you. The humour and whimsical inventiveness of the Munich comedian culminate in exhibits such as the "Winter Toothpick". If you would first like to delve deeper into the relationship and work of the comedian duo Karl Valentin and Liesl Karlstadt, you can read the exciting and entertaining interview with a couple therapist.
We continue our walk towards the Isar (river), where one of the world's most important museums of science and technology is located - the Deutsches Museum. Oskar von Miller founded it 120 years ago on an island in the Isar river within the city area, today's Museum Island. In 2022, 19 new permanent exhibitions were opened as part of the first phase of the museum's general renovation, from aviation to health, from robotics to music. You should definitely spend a whole day there.
On the neighbouring island, the Praterinsel, is the Alpines Museum – interesting for all outdoor fans and people who want to learn more about alpine history – and explore it from the perspectives of science, history, tourism, sport and art. Incidentally, it belongs to the German Alpine Association, which is why a mountain feeling is guaranteed in the middle of Munich! The Alpine Museum is currently closed for renovations and is expected to reopen in spring 2024.
In Munich, it just takes ten minutes to switch from a mountain feeling in the Alpine Museum to luxury in Maximilianstrasse. If you can manage to break away from the shop windows of the shopping mile – or from the sunset, which glows particularly golden in this street – you should include a visit to the Museum Fünf Kontinente. As the name suggests, guests can travel the world here: The museum presents exhibits from Africa, North and South America, India, East Asia and Oceania.
Founded in 1862 as the first German ethnological museum, it is still dedicated to promoting mutual understanding between the different cultures of the world and to reducing xenophobia and discrimination. By the way, our author spent a night in Museum Fünf Kontinente and wrote about her adventurous experience.
Munich's city centre has plenty to offer besides a diverse museum landscape. A great shopping spree can be perfectly combined with a visit to the museum and various places to stop for refreshments, such as the historical Café Luitpold, where you can round off a beautiful day.