The Kurpfaelzisches Museum der Stadt Heidelberg is a broad ranging as well as in depth museum of the Heidelberg region covering it's history, archaeology and art (Kurpfalz being an ancient electioral region of the Holy Roman Empire). I stumbled apon this museum by accident when I was wandering around the city but would highly recommend it as a starting point for tourists wanting a more detailed look at the region and it's history as it gives a great background after which I had a greater appreciation of the famous historical sites such as the castle.
A great place to start is in the urban history section, especially if you feel that your knowledge of art (specifically German art) is a little lacking. The early parts of this I found a little boring as they concentrate on the development of the city and except for the urban development expert don't require more than a quick pass through. However, the area with history from 1800 onwards is far more people based and I found it enthralling-and it gives the amateur viewer an appreciation of why, for example, the romantic painters or the time period around 1900 are so important in this region of Germany. I found that as someone with an interest in art but no specific detailed knowledge this really gave a good background from which to appreciate the actual art exhibits later. Information was available in English, although less detailed than the German.
The main part of the museum is taken up with paintings and sculptures ranging from the 15th to the 20th centuries and is largely by artists either from the Heidelberg region or with some connection to it. I enjoyed being able to look at local work rather than art that has influence from the whole world which is common in the larger museums. Rooms house work from medieval times, through the baroque period through the romantic and up to modern and post-war age thus it is possible to trace the development of art in this region through the ages.
I spent most of my time in the romatic painters section partially because this is the area that I have most interest in but also because the collection has a particular focus on this period. It houses pieces by some big names such as Fohr and Fries and is broad in its coverage of the region. I easily spent an hour here and could have stayed longer.
There are also sections of the museum on graphic and applied arts although I have less of an interest in these and skipped these rooms.
Overall I think this is a fantastic collection and it is housed in a light and airy but old building that is pleasant to walk around with a small garden at the front. I believe that the museum has a good balance to keep both people heavily into art and those who just enjoy looking at some paintings interested-good place to spent a few hours.
Address: Hauptstrasse (main street) 97
Opening hours: 10am-6pm tuesday to sunday
Admission: Euro3 adults, Euro1.80 concessions