Discovering the Bavarian National Museum in Munich was worthwhile for many reasons. The biggest one was seeing the collection of nativity scenes. 

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Bayerisches Nativity Scenes

We spent over an hour viewing them. The majority of the exhibits were donated by Max Schmederer, who spent years amassing them. What an amazing treasure to accumulate and share. There are more than 6,000 figures contained in the various creches! The variety of nativities is remarkable. We learned that they don’t all depict the holy family in the manager. Some reflect the city, community, and status of the people commissioning the work. That’s why the settings can be somewhat fanciful. There are vignettes not more than an inch tall. The one of Judas hanging from a tree was particularly touching. 

Challenge yourself (or your kids) to find the details and humor in the scenes. Is that couple really eating spaghetti? What instruments are the musicians playing? How many species of dogs are in that scene? Marvel at the ladies in voluminous dresses, tiny cats, jeweled sword sheaths … the detail work will hold you captive.

Small figurine dressed in 17th century clothes

Naples Street – Christmas Market

I’m only posting one creche photo because shooting through glass in a darkened exhibit hall doesn’t give good results. The website has an online array that will dazzle you. Here’s a link to one of the most amazing ones—Market in Naples. During an analysis of the onion braid hanging near this woman, they discovered skins that are 200 years old! Simply Munich has exquisite photos and an interview with museum curator Thomas Schindler. It’s a shame there isn’t a photo of the entire display. The Naples market tableau must span fifteen feet and be perhaps three feet tall. The figures are around a foot in height. 

Moravian Nativity Scene

This is diorama was completed by an ivory carver as a side project with 1,000 pieces made of paper. It’s difficult to even conceive of how he managed to make such tiny, intricate figurines. There’s a description online, however, there’s only one photo. (A note on Moravia: We discovered Moravian Cabernet while in Munich. What a delightful and smooth red wine!)

Comprehensive Bavarian Museum

My exterior photo of the museum is different from the grand shot on the website because we trudged through a foot plus of snow in order to snap it! (See this Munich Christmas Market post for more on that!) 

Like the nearby Munich Residence Palace, the Bavarian National Museum is a place to spend an entire day. There are over 150 rooms with collections from Medieval Textiles to Baroque Glass. They showcase statuary, weapons, tapestries, architecture, street musicians, a skeleton (death) riding a lion. There is so much to see that we could have visited two days! Don’t skip it when you’re in Munich.

When You Go


The Bavarian National Museum is closed on Mondays. Check the site for changes, but the standard hours are 10:00-5:00. Late hours are Thursday until 8:00.

The Nativity Scenes

Are not displayed year round, so check before going. It’s currently open October – February.


Most of the museum is wheelchair accessible. Check the map for the appropriate entrance and location of elevators. They also offer light, foldable chairs that you can carry and use as needed. We didn’t spot the chairs at the entrance or we would have been tempted. Talk about a day of getting those 10K steps!


You’ve got to take a look at this on the website! Normal days tickets are 7.00-10.00E. Sundays the standard entrance fee is only ONE EURO! How do you beat that? There are many other tickets options and passes to choose from. Multimedia guides are available and included in the ticket price. (Except Sundays when they charge 2.00E because admission is less.)

Coat & Bag Check

Staff will advise if bag must be checked (free of charge). If your coats are wet, please check them as well so you don’t drip throughout the museum.

Museum Cafe & Restaurant

During our visit, these were closed due to the amount of snow! Darn because after a good espresso, we could have soldiered on and seen more.


Read: Munich Residence Palace