Thanks to medieval cellars dug into the sandstone of Nuremberg's castle hill, much of the city's artistic heritage survived the devastating aerial bombardments of World War II. Immediately after the outbreak of the war, a large former beer cellar ca 24 meters beneath the Imperial Castle was transformed into a unique storage facility where irreplaceable art treasures could be protected against damage and looting and preserved for future generations.
Deep inside the castle hill, a simple but effective air-conditioning system was installed, as were moisture-proof storage cells and personnel facilities, insuring optimal protection for Nuremberg's rich store of historic works of art.
Among the masterpieces which survived World War II in Nuremberg's historic Art Bunker were:
- the Annunciation ("Englischer Gruß") by Veit Stoß from the Lorenzkirche
- the mechanical clock ("Männleinlaufen") from the Frauenkirche
- paintings, engravings and books by Albrecht Dürer
- altars, stained glass windows and choir stalls from the Old Town's many churches
- the Behaim Globe, scientific instruments, timepieces and historical musical instruments from the Germanisches Nationalmuseum
The Historic Art Bunker also provided safe shelter for the great altar by Veit Stoß from the Church of Our Lady in Krakow and for the relics and regalia of the Holy Roman Empire Many of the original fixtures of the World War II Art Bunker are still to be seen. Both the air raids which destroyed old Nuremberg and the unparalleled salvage of the city's artistic heritage are documented with original photos and an audio-visual presentation.