This travel guide was prepared by: Helmut Ebert, international trading company
136 West Main Street | Welland Ontario Canada L3C 5A2
I have severe hearing problems - please contact me by e-mail
A help to find parking - many thanks for the map to the "Verein Städtetourismus in Thüringen e.V."
I think we should spend at least a week in Erfurt to be able to give you an impression of this town. We missed so many things which we should have seen and done. Our Internet tourist guide needs much more work, to cover the most essential attractions and events.
We hope that more Thuringians will help us as Mr. Enders and his wife have done. They told us to visit the Heritage Museum if we are interested in learning about the living conditions in Thuringia's past.
The Enders family owned a pastry shop in Erfurt and all of their advice was a great help.
Attached to the museum is a nice looking restaurant, but Elizabeth my wife refused to eat anything and I went along with her. I hoped my chance would come later. Unfortunately it didn't!
The "Volkskundemuseum" or "Museum für Thüringer Volkskunde" (how it is officially named) is very close to the "Augustinerkloster" (Protestant Augustinian Priory).
I call it a Thuringian Heritage Museum.
Depending how much time you want to spend you may be able to combine both visits.
We found paid parking across the street which was very convenient on this hot day.
We were the only visitors and we became our own personal German speaking guide for free. The lady was very knowledgeable and friendly as is almost everybody.
We intended to see a especial time limited exhibition about carved cookie molds, But we were too late for that. The reason is - we sell replicas of those molds online.
Elizabeth was very excited when she saw that the special exhibition was about cats. She loves cats and for that reason we have three of them in Canada.
Unfortunately, she could not read all the educational and very interesting information which had been added to the various displays. I used many of them in our web site.
Originally cats were unknown outside of Egypt. It is assumed that already by 1000 BC, Phoenicians smuggled cats out of the country and sold them for a fortune.
After the Romans conquered Egypt, cats started to become known in Italy and the surrounding countries.
They were considered to be useful because of their ability to catch mice. Around the year 936, a law was issued in England that anybody who killed a cat was charged with a fine.
Despite the fact that even monasteries kept cats. some Christian extremists were against cats. Reasons they used were the no Christian customs practiced in the past and the typical behavior of the animals. The poor animals were blamed for almost everything. This caused the near extinction of cats in Europe. Even the pope damned cats. A woman who had a cat was considered to be a witch and was tortured and burnt in public. I am sorry, but I can't see too much difference from the actions of the Taliban.
It was the nobles who started in the 17 th and 18 th century to reintroduce cats and finally at the end of the 19 th century cats were again used to fight the overpopulation of mice and rats in big cities.
Many artists, writers, and other intellectuals adopted cats and lived with them. The first cat doors were installed to allow the animals access to the outside. Missing cats were posted in newspapers and sometimes cats inherited fortunes when their owner died.
Cats found their way into story books for children. Just think about "Puss'n Boots'". Examples like that below were shown in this little part of the museum.
The German word "Katzenmusik" (cats music) is used for all terrible sounding music. I don't know whether the picture below was the reason for creating this word, which is still in use in Germany for terrible sounding music.
Soon cats were not only used for advertising of all kind of articles which had nothing to do with cats, but also cat furs and even underwear made of cat fur were offered. It was claimed that these products helped against rheumatism, nerve pains, shortage of breath and more.
I remember my mother had a cat fur and she used it occasionally.
Elizabeth did not love those stories and I stopped translating them for her.
When our cats do not behave I threaten them that they will end up as a fur. But they do not listen and still do whatever they want.
I think that these temporary exhibitions are a great idea to attract especially local people to return to the Heritage Museum.
It may be a little bit difficult for elderly people to see everything because this historic building does not have an elevator, and you must climb stairs to get to the different sections of the museum. But Thuringians should be used to that. They have stairs everywhere.
I believe a collector of antique furniture would become very excited in this museum. Elizabeth is one and I lost her all the time when she stayed in certain places while I walked away. Our guide kept running back and forth between us.
Climate control is mandatory in all the rooms to prevent cracking of the very valuable and refurbished furniture
You do not find only one of the largest displays of painted furniture in Germany, you also can see the typical folks dresses (Trachten), household utensils, furnishings and much, much more.
You also learn about the living conditions in this country. Many people had to leave the places where they grew up to find work in the cities. Many of them immigrated to North America.
New jobs had to be created to reduce poverty. On of the was that of a mask maker.
We are not showing everything what you can find in this great museum. I do not believe that anything is missing to show you how people lived in Thuringia in the past.
The masks are made of paper maché which was produced in Sonneberg, Thuringia.
This new material was also used by doll makers. Thuringia was well known for dolls.
We sold years ago dolls from Waltershausen another village in Thuringia. Unfortunately most of this business had to close after the unification of Germany and it will never come back.
We spend quiet a wile in the museum and we were still the only visitors on this week day. It is a shame, but I believe our local museums in Canada are not doing much better. We were most the time also the sole visitors.
A big difference to our local museums in Welland and St. Catharines was that I received outstanding support - here in our area I was not allowed to take any pictures for our German language travel guide which we made for Ontario.
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