A medieval convent, an Augustinian monastery, the heyday of Baroque, Prussian state property, an estate, a museum – the history of Kloster Dalheim [Dalheim Monastery] has been eventful and multi-faceted to equal extents. The monastery has accommodated the Kloster Dalheim Foundation since 2007. LWL-Landesmuseum für Klosterkultur. The monastery site with a size of 7.5 hectares offers a representative impression of the size and coherence of a complete monastery complex. Situated on the westerly edge of the Egge mountain range in a side valley of the Altenau, it is surrounded by a natural landscape of meadows and extensive forested areas. The museum invites visitors to discover the world of European monastery culture.
In the permanent exhibition, 11 rooms dedicated to the historic cloister enable visitors to experience how monks lived, prayed and worked within a mediaeval monastery. With the aid of modern display methods the exhibition traces the fascination and everyday existence of monastic life. Around 200 exponents collected over ten centuries are presented, ranging from crockery retrieved from excavations, liturgical utensils and valuable liturgical vestments to alters and panelled paintings, sculptures, architectural sculpture and historic manuscripts. The rooms related to secularisation show how the monastery was dissolved by the Prussians and reorganised to become an agricultural complex. Maps, old machines and constructional modifications are still preserved today and offer insights into the Prussian use of the site.
As part of secularisation, Dalheim Monastery was dissolved in 1803 and organised as a state property until 1954 – primarily under the Prussians over a time period of around 150 years and decisively influenced by Prussian economic policies. As an exemplary operation it was intended to be a role model for the farmers of the environs. The Prussian authorities dispatched civil servants and the military to Dalheim on 7 March 1803 to prevent any losses upon annexation of the monastery. Stables were set up in the church and cloister. From then onwards livestock, straw and corn were housed here. The monastery site at Dalheim continued to be used for agricultural operations until the 1970s. This can still be witnessed for example in the constructional changes carried out during the estate era.