first mentioned in a document in1065, "Stambs" gained its supra-regional importance with the decision of the sovereign Count Meinhard II of Gorizia-Tyrol (ca. 1239-1295) to endow a monastery here. It was also to serve as a burial place for the counts of Gorizia-Tyrol. His wife Elisabeth von Wittelsbach (1227-1273) played a major role in the foundation. Konradin, her son from her first marriage, had been beheaded in Naples and was to be given a burial place here. This is how tradition has it.
750 years Stams Abbey
in 1273 the founding convent moved into Stams. Of course, the original complex cannot be compared with today's, as the monastery was initially a wooden building erected not far from today's parish church. The monastery area was only completed after eleven years of construction. Endowed by Meinhard II with numerous privileges and donations, Stams Abbey grew to become an important religious, economic and cultural center of the region. Today, anyone who walks through the well-tended green spaces, past the imposing buildings painted in yolk-yellow and white, with the two towers visible from afar, senses the importance of this place even from the outside.
Rich in art
The Abbey Museum, set up on the second floor of the administration building, traces this significance for faith, science, art and culture in selected objects. It can be reached via a staircase whose colorful grilles were created by the Silzer art locksmith Bernhard Bachnetzer around 1727 - just a few steps away from the fantastic Bernardisaal, where cultural events take place time and again. These include the Obertöne chamber music days, which are celebrating their tenth anniversary this year. For the anniversary exhibition, head down the hallway in the museum and down the stairs to the New Cloister. To protect the valuable objects from sunlight, some display cases are covered with cloths.
At seven stations and around important actors, the curators Gert Ammann and Helmuth Oehler recount central moments in the development of Stams Abbey. In addition to works of art, there are pieces from the archives, collections and library of the monastery on display. In doing so, the show works "against time" - in other words, it does not begin with the founding of the monastery, but takes the opposite path: from the situation under National Socialism further back into history with each stop.
During the Nazi period, the monastery was without abbot and monks - symbolized in the exhibition by an empty picture frame - and served as a storage facility for important art treasures from other parts of Tyrol. In addition, "optants" lived here, people who had left the fascist-ruled South Tyrol and moved to the National Socialist "Third Reich". It was not until 1946 that monastic life in Stams flourished again.
This was not the first time that Stams Abbey was dissolved. Already under the rule of the Bavarians (1807 to 1816) there had been a monastery dissolution. This was the end of one of the greatest blossoms of the monastery. This had been initiated by Abbot Vigil Kranicher (1766-1786). Like his predecessor, he was a patron of arts and crafts and science.
A small object on display immediately arouses interest, as it reflects the special method of keywording used by Kassian Primisser. The monastery chronicler created a "string index" by connecting the keyword notes with string. Right next to it is an artistically embroidered chasuble, an outer garment worn by the priest at mass. It was donated by none other than Maria Theresa of Austria. "Whether the donor embroidered it herself can only be conjectured," say the curators in the exhibition catalog.
In the field of church music in particular, the monastery also proved to be a patron of regional and national talent, as evidenced by musical instruments and musical notations, among other things. Among the numerous artists and craftsmen who worked on the design of the rooms is the painter Josef Schöpf (1745-1822). Belonging to the late Baroque period, the native of Telfer left his entire artistic estate to the monastery. A separate room in the permanent exhibition is dedicated to him.
Particularly exciting are the architectural changes that Stams Abbey underwent over the centuries. The two abbots Edmund Zoz (1690-1699) and Augustin Kastner (1714-1738) are considered to be extremely important here. It was during their time that the west façade with the double towers, which is so popularly photographed today, and the aforementioned Bernardisaal were created, and the collegiate church and the Holy Blood Chapel were given their present form. On the basis of planning documents, the work can be traced, which was carried out by the well-known master builders Johann Martin Gumpp and his son Georg Anton Gumpp.
The exhibition already moves on to the 24th abbot of Stams, Thomas Lugga, who presided over the monastery from 1616 to 1631, ushering in the Baroque phase in monastery building. In his time secular power bearer: Archduke Maximilian III (1558-1618), called the Deutschmeister. He is often referred to as the "second founder" of Stams Abbey, because he strongly supported the development of the abbey.
To the foundation
Remarkable are the codices with illuminations from the 15th century presented in the exhibition. Which brings us to the foundation of the mon astery. This section of the exhibition can be reached via a metal staircase, embedded in the historical core of the monastery complex - the foundation walls of the monastery church, which was consecrated in 1284. The focus here, of course, is the portraits of Count Meinhard II and Elisabeth von Wittelsbach - both buried in the collegiate church. Just behind them, the model of the first church.
Supplemented by a tour of the permanent exhibition, „Ewig im Gedächtnis“ – 750 Jahre Stift Stams thus paints a multifaceted picture of Stams Abbey as a place of faith, culture, art and science, as well as its significance for the region and beyond. In addition, there is a series of events. In addition to festive church services, lectures and guided tours, the "Stift Stams Sakral - Festival Orgel Plus" (Stams Abbey Sacral - Organ Plus Festival ), among others, is dedicated to the 750th anniversary.
„Ewig im Gedächtnis“ – 750 Jahre Stift Stams
Anniversary exhibition in the New Cloister of Stams Abbey
Until October 1, 2023
Museum opening hours: Mon.-Sat. 10-12 h and 13-17 h, Sun. and holidays 13-17 h
Photos, unless otherwise stated: © Susanne Gurschler
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Innsbruck has captured her heart, and the view of the Nordkette mountains soothes her soul. A journalist, non-fiction author, bookworm, amateur photographer, dog owner and mountain walker #ghostsofinnsbruck