Medieval Woodworking Resources:
Museums with Furniture Collections

General

Furniture Museums - A list of museums "with significant permanent collections of furniture"

North America

New York, NY - The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cloisters

Philadelphia, PA - Philadelphia Museum of Art

Richmond, VA - Agecroft Hall - Agecroft Hall is a Tudor manor house that was moved to Richmond in the 1920's. It is furnished with pieces from the 15th to 17th Centuries.

Wilmington, DE - Winterthur - This former DuPont mansion has no medieval or Renaissance content whatsoever.  On the other hand, it is probably the best decorative art museum in North America.  While Winterthur's focus is on 18th and 19th Century American decorative art, it is worth visiting for the immense depth of its collections.  Even if you don't go through the house, the side exhibitions are worthwhile since they include a significant collection of furniture as well as the complete workshop of the Dominy family of clock and cabinet makers.  In addition to the house and internationally famous gardens, the complex also boasts an extremely good library that is very strong in furniture and conservation.

South America

Buenos Aires, Argentina - Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo (Spanish).  Has a couple of interesting pieces under "Colecciones".

Europe

Austria

Innsbruck - Tiroler Volkskunst Museum (English, German, Italian) - The museum includes a collection of Gothic and Renaissance Tyrolean furniture.

Vienna - Museum für Angewandte Kunst (German, English) - The MAK contains a major collection of applied arts from the Middle Ages to the present.  Judging from the web page, the museum may be concentrating more on cutting edge design than on historical study.

Belgium

Bruges - Our Lady of the Potterie (English) - A former 15th Century hospital that now hosts a small collection of art and furniture.  Official SiteUnofficial Site.

Bruges - Gruuthuse Museum (English) - Medieval mansion housing a collection of fine and applied arts.

Brussels - Royal Museums for Art and History (Dutch, French) - They used to have pages in English, but they seem to have disappeared in the site reorganization.  The Cinquantenaire/Jubelpark Museum has a large collection of decorative arts including furniture.

Czech Republic

Prague - Museum of Decorative Arts - Houses a collection of furniture.  No web page.

Denmark

Copenhagen - Danish Museum of Decorative Art (Danish, English) - Contains a collection of Spanish and Italian Renaissance furniture.

France

Écouen - Musée national de la Renaissance (French) - The chateau at Écouen contains a large collection of 16th and 17th century furniture. Several pieces can be seen by following the "Collections" link to "Mobilier".

Paris - Musée national du Moyen Age -Thermes de Cluny  (French) - The Musée national du Moyen Age contains a significant collection of chests and other pieces, primarily from the 15th century.  The collections section under "La vie quotidienne du Moyen Age" has picture of a folding table and a gaming set.

Paris - Musée des Arts Décoratifs (English), Description of the Medieval collection (French) - The Musée des Arts Décoratifs is a small museum focusing on French decorative arts.   The Medieval and Renaissance collection includes several pieces of 16th century furniture as well as a 15th century furnished room.  Unfortunately, the most interesting pieces are in the furnished room where you can't look at them closely.

Rochelambert, Haute-Loire - Chateau de la Rochelambert - The chateau houses a significant collection of French Renaissance furniture.  No web page unfortunately.

Strasbourg - Musee l'Oeuvre Notre-Dame - The museum contains several pieces of medieval chests.  Some good photos are here, courtesy of Peter Barclay.

Germany

Berlin - Kunstgewerbemuseum (German, English) - Despite major losses in the Second World War, the museum houses a large furniture collection with an especial strength in Italian Renaissance pieces.

Cologne - Museum für Angewandte Kunst (German) - A goodly collection of medieval and Renaissance furniture, recently documented in a book by Edla Colsman.

Frankfurt - Museum für Angewandt Kunst - Frankfurt (German)

Freiburg - Augustiner Museum (German) - The collection includes furniture from the Middle Ages to the Biedermeir period.

Hamburg - Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (English, German)

Leipzig - Museum für Kunst Handwerk (Grassi Museum) (English, French, German) - Currently undergoing a complete rebuild; the museum houses decorative arts from prehistory to the present.

Nuremberg - Germanisches National Museum (English, German) - A huge collection of art and artifacts including some furniture.  The "Collections" page includes a link to an impressive 15th Century cupboard.

Munich - Bayerisches Nationalmuseum (English, German) - Just added English pages.  Very strong in Medieval and Renaissance art including "an important collection of German furniture of the 15th and 16th Centuries".  The collection includes a 16th Century traveling bed.

Würzburg - Mainfränkisches Museum (German, English)- Very strong on 15th Century woodcarving.  One of the items shown under "Arts and Crafts" is a complete room from a 16th Century tavern.

Hungary

Budapest - Nagytétény Castle Museum (English, Hungarian) The national furniture museum of Hungary covers European furniture from Gothic to Biedermeir (mid 19th Century).

Italy

Bormio - Museo Civico di Bormio (Italian) - Local history museum including furniture and a carpenter and turner's workshop.

Florence - Museo di Palazzo Davanzati, (Italian) - Reconstructed Renaissance palace housing a collection of 15th to 19th century furnishings and art.

Milan - Museo Balgatti Valsechi (Italian, English) - The home of two wealthy 19th Century collectors who furnished their home with pieces mostly dating from the late 15th to the early 16th Centuries as well as contemporary pieces in Renaissance style.

Milan - Museo di Arti Applicate e Strumenti Musicali (English) - The Museum of Decorative Arts and Musical Instruments contains 600 pieces of furniture from the 15th to the 18th centuries.

Rome - Museo di Roma - Palazzo Braschi (Italian, English) - Collection contains 600 pieces of 15th to 19th century furniture with a concentration on the Italian Renaissance.

Netherlands

Amsterdam - Rijksmuseum (English, Dutch) - In addition to its renowned art collection, the Rijksmuseum holds a small applied arts collection.  If you can put up with the excessive Flash animation, there are a couple of early 16th Century pieces featured.

Zwolle - Stedelijke Museum Zwolle (English, Dutch) - The city museum of Zwolle contains a small collection of furniture scattered amongst the other exhibits.

Norway

Oslo - Kunstindustrimuseet (Norwegian)
A brief English description

Portugal

Lisbon - Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (English, Portuguese) - Contains furniture from the 15th to the 19th Century.

Russia

St. Petersburg - State Hermitage Museum (English, Russian) - Contains a collection of furniture from the 15th to the 19th Century.  A couple of pieces can be found under "Highlights of the Collection".  In addition to the furniture, the site provides extensive coverage of the museum, its history, and its enormous art collection.

Spain

Barcelona - Museu de les Arts Decoratives (Catlan, English, Spanish) - Decorative arts (including some furniture) from the Middle Ages to the present.

Madrid - Museo Nacional de Artes Decorativas (Spanish) - This 62 room museum contains a collection of Spanish decorative art focusing on the 16th and 17th Centuries.  Some of the furniture collection dates back to the 14th Century.  Several nice pictures on the web under "Coleccion".

Sweden

Stockholm - Nordiska Museet (Swedish, English) - The Nordiska Museum contains a collection of furniture from the Renaissance to the present.

Stockholm - Historiska Museet (Swedish, English) - The Musem of National Antiquities contains several pieces of medieval furniture, mostly from churches.  There are photos of about a dozen pieces in the online catalog (unfortunately only in Swedish).

Switzerland

Geneva - Musee d'Art et d'Histoire Ville de Geneve (English, French) contains furniture and other decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the present.

United Kingdom

Chichester - Weald and Downland Open Air Museum. The Weald and Downland Museum is dedicated to preserving original buildings from southeastern England. The museum has a number of Medieval and Renaissance buildings (both originals and reconstructions) including the Bayleaf farmstead, a Fifteenth Century house furnished as it might have appeared c. 1540.

London - Victoria & Albert Museum - The V&A is one of the world's leading decorative arts museums. It has an extensive collection of English and Continental furniture as well as other Medieval and Renaissance artifacts. 

Saffron Walden - The Saffron Walden Museum has a collection of furniture from the 15th - 18th Centuries.

Southampton - The Medieval Merchant's House - A medieval town house furnished in 14th Century style.

York - Barley Hall - Barley Hall is a reconstructed Fifteenth Century townhouse in the heart of York.

Contents © 2003 Gary R. Halstead