The museum houses the Upper Rhine’s most comprehensive cultural history collection and the display area covers 6,200 square meters. The exhibition presents objects documenting handicraft traditions and everyday culture from ages past. Its focus is on the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance up to the Baroque period. Leading highlights include: the Basel Cathedral treasure, the Basel and Strasbourg tapestries, the fragments of Basel’s dance of death, altars and ecclesiastical graphic works, the estate of Erasmus of Rotterdam, the coin cabinet and glass painting.
The museum is managed by the canton of Basel-City. Its origins lie with the Amerbach family in the 16th century whose Wunderkammer was bought by Basel 1661 and brought to the public 1671. The cultural history objects of this Wunderkammer, togheter with the ones of other collections, became the Historisches Museum Basel in 1894.
The museum is divided into four buildings, three of which are within the city of Basel, while the fourth lies slightly outside.