Up Dürer Strasse from the Nuremberg Spielzeug Museum (Toy Museum), just down the hill from the Kaiserburg, you’ll find the Albrecht Dürer House. I had the chance to visit in 2019 while on a Christmas Market tour, and I was fascinated. As you all know, I love “small” museums. It’s the instant immersion without a lot of extra fluff. Albrecht Dürer is considered to be Germany’s most famous painter. His Dürer Rabbit is familiar to most people, and who else grew up with the Praying Hands hanging somewhere in the house? But this museum isn’t JUST about the art. The house captures life in the sixteenth century better than any painting could. Although Dürer only lived in the house for 20 years, from 1509 – 1529, the house looks almost as if he just stepped out yesterday (Ok, yes, if you ignore the cashier in the front). Creaky stairs, dark beams, period furniture… and his workroom! I can just imagine him working away by the light of the window.
Albrecht Dürer House Nuremberg
When Albrecht Dürer moved into his Nuremberg home in 1509, he was already a famous artist. The house, a sturdy half timbered home built in the early 1400s, is one of the few surviving examples from the Golden Age of Nuremberg’s merchant class. Take this to mean, the city of Nuremberg was at the height of their prosperity from trade, and Dürer moved into one of the nicer houses in a great neighborhood. (He wasn’t exactly a starving artist). He had the house remodeled for the comfort of his wife, but also to house his apprentices. He also built a studio into the top floor.
Dürer lived and worked in the house until his death in 1528. After this, despite the home being sold, it stayed the same… as if people didn’t feel they should change it. Baroque painter Joachim von Sandrart turned it into a memorial in order to preserve the home. Then in 1871, the Dürer house became the first museum devoted to one artist. The home is both gallery and living space. Like an immersive Freilicht Museum (open-air museum) with beautiful surprises. Even if you aren’t a fan of art or architecture, the Dürer house gives you a chance to see what life was like for the Merchant class during the early 1500s. This isn’t a breathtaking castle or a cramped hut. (Imagine 500 years from now someone stepping into an upper-middle class home… and it’s arranged so you really could just move in)
On the ground floor you’ll find the gallery of Dürer’s works. This is the section that feels most like an art museum.
Art lovers may linger here (there’s even a bench for people who just want to sit and look at the paintings).
As you go up the stairs, you come to the living quarters. The Kitchen with it’s enormous hearth. (you can even peek into the small commode room)
The Sitting Room/ Dining Room.
You know you wanted a closer look at that chandelier!
And then you go up to the workroom
His famous “Praying Hands”.
The original drawing was done on blue paper (that he made himself), and was thought to be a study made in preparation for his work on the Heller Altarpiece. (The central part of the original altarpiece was lost in a fire in Munich in 1729. Fortunately, Dürer copyist painted a copy of the work in 1615, and you can see the hands attached to a praying Apostle at the Städl in Frankfurt) The Praying Hands was done in 1508, and predates his time in Nüremberg
Dürer’s woodcuts and engravings solidified his reputation. Here you see how they could be reprinted.
Throughout the day, a docent gives demonstrations on the printing process for Dürer’s engravings.
By cutting different depths, different inks, and using particular shadings, you almost get color in the prints.
Because I too drag bits and pieces of nature home from my walks, the Cabinet of Curiosities drew me in. Bones and shells, feathers and even an Ostrich egg! And I think that long spiked bone is the nose of a Sawfish. (I have this image in my head of Albrecht emptying his pockets after a walk, and Agnes rolling her eyes and fussing. “Get that off my Kitchen Table!”)
Plan a visit to the Albrecht Dürer House in Nuremberg
You can wander the Albrecht Dürer house freely on your own, with or without headphones to guide you (most objects are numbered, and information is given if you need it). Most days you can also take a guided tour with an Actress portraying Agnes, his wife. Enjoy the experience… watch the demonstrations… and just imagine, when you look out the window up at the Schlossberg, you are seeing much of the same view that Dürer did during his life.
Click for Tickets and Information
All I need is this coloring book, and a seat by the window….