In the rich museum landscape of our region, the City Museum Bruneck/Brunico is one with a very rich history.
After Bozen (1882), Meran and Brixen (1898), the small town of Bruneck desired to have its own museum association. The initiative was taken by local historian and judiciary Paul Tschurtschenthaler and resulted in the establishment of the museum association in 1912.
Albert Stolz, Portrait of Paul Tschurtschenthaler, 1933, oil on canvas
In 1844, the estate of Johann Nepomuk Tinkhauser, a talented and successful goldsmith and local journalist, served as a foundation for the museum. One of his daughters, Maria Theresa Elizabeth, married name Seeböck, took care of her father’s rich and valuable legacy for decades. In 1911, the municipality aquired this collection which would serve as foundation for a local museum in the future. The collection included sacred objects of gold in classical style, a large number of paintings, reliefs, Gothic artworks, weapons, local arts and crafts, coins, books, records and documents. These items were displayed on the premises of the former town hall for the museum association members and to all who were interested until the beginning of the First World War.
Sonnenburger Calendarium 1439 - 1746
After the war, some of the most valuable objects that were taken to Salzburg during the war, returned to Bruneck and the museum resumed its activities, but in 1923 it was forced out of the premises. The pieces were packed in boxes and stored in the town hall, and some valuable items were entrusted to private individuals. Thus began the long ordeal of the museum's collection, transferred to the Civic Museum of Bozen/Bolzano in 1940, where they were largely deposited in basements and forgotten.
Friedrich Pacher, St. Catherine of Alexandria, 2nd half of the 15th century
After more than 40 years of slumber, the collections were again "discovered" in 1981 and partially returned to Bruneck in 1983. The first repository was the South Tyrolean Folklore Museum in Dietenheim. Their condition was pitiful. Some, for example the marksman targets, had crumbled and some of the pictures only consisted of canvas strips. For a local or town museum, the poor condition and depleted inventory was not sufficient, especially given the fact that the traditional heritage was already being preserved by the museum of Dietenheim.
Friedensreich Hundertwasser , from the series 'Regentag Kreisverkehr'
Given the state of affairs, the South Tyrolean Folklore Museum and the municipality agreed to leave the relevant historical objects to the museum in Dietenheim on loan. The partial return of the collection to Brunico in 1990 encouraged the reactivation of the old museum association, in which Josef Gasteiger and Marco Pellizzari motivated the establishment of a new museum. The municipal museum was finally opened in 1995 on the premises of the restored former post stables. The deposting, restoration and exhibition of the valuable collections of the former museum could thus be put into action by the museum association. The museum association set another focus on graphic works in a broader sense: printmaking, drawing and watercolor. Since then, the association has built a comprehensive graphic works collection by local, national and international artists to approximately 3,500 sheets, and still growing with more photo collections (Ernst Mariner, photographers Kofler family, etc.) and numerous donations from private individuals and well-known artists. A special feature is the existence of more than 12,000 bookplates from around the world.
Extract of H. Grießmair, „Bewegte Geschichte des Museums der Stadt Bruneck“, in „Südtirol in Wort und Bild“, 3rd quarter 2009, p.17-23.
Translation by Barbara Taferner.