In 1983, the Abbey Library, together with the entire Abbey District of St. Gall, was inscribed by UNESCO on the World Heritage List. This was followed in 2017 by the designation of the written heritage of the Abbey of St. Gall in the Abbey Library and Abbey Archives as Memory of the World. Its collections date back practically uninterruptedly over 1300 years, to the time of the foundation of the monastery by Gallus and Otmar. The Abbey thus holds two of UNESCO's most prestigious awards.
Today, the heritage of the Abbey of St. Gall is conveyed in three exhibition rooms: the Abbey Library, the vaulted cellar and the Exhibition Hall. With its overwhelmingly beautiful Baroque hall and unique manuscript collection, the Abbey Library of St. Gall is one of the most important historical libraries in the world. It presents its holdings in changing exhibitions. The vaulted cellar follows the footsteps of the monastery founder Gallus and shows the contribution of the monasteries to the emergence of an occidental culture. Its magnificent highlight is the Evangelium longum, decorated with precious stones, gold and ivory. In the exhibition hall, legal documents and administrative records demonstrate the importance of the monastery as the oldest monastic archive in the Occident. The famous St. Gall monastery plan is presented in a separate room. It is considered the most important architectural drawing of the Middle Ages.
Abbey Library of St. Gall
The Abbey Library of St. Gall is one of the oldest and most important libraries in the world. Its valuable collection of books documents the development of European culture and the cultural achievements of the Abbey of St. Gall from the 8th century until the dissolution of the abbey in 1805. Numerous fundamental works of European intellectual history are preserved here in the best tradition. The heart of the collection is the corpus of early medieval manuscripts from the 8th to 11th centuries, which was largely created on site.
Today, the Abbey Library is an institution of the Catholic denomination of the Canton of St. Gallen. It sees itself as a modern scientific library with a medieval orientation.
Abbey Archives of St. Gall
The Abbey Archives of St. Gall are the oldest monastery archives in the Occident. Its exhibition The Miracle of Tradition - The St. Gall Monastery Plan and Europe in the Early Middle Ages deals with the unique density of documents from the early Middle Ages preserved in St. Gall. The focus is on the legal documents that have been preserved in the St. Gall Abbey Archives, including two fraternity books and the only surviving professed book from the Carolingian period. Nearly 1000 hamlets, villages and towns are also mentioned for the first time in these documents. Temporary exhibitions with thematically selected documents provide insights into the life of the early Middle Ages.
The famous St. Gall monastery plan from the Abbey Library is presented in a separate room. It is considered the most important architectural drawing of the Middle Ages. After an introductory multivision, it can be viewed for a few seconds in the original. For conservation reasons, the valuable document must be protected from excessive exposure to light.