Museum Collection

The museum at CHI is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is free. Group tours can be arranged by calling (314) 505-7900.

Special Exhibits

The museum at CHI is always showcasing a special exhibit. Currently, "My Lord Katie" is showing, in both the museum and on this website. Also on this website, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod, we have a brief historical sketch of the synod. Both can be seen from the Museum Exhibits page. Please be aware that these exhibits have some rather large graphics and may load slowly.

Collection Highlights

C.F.W. Walther's Piano

CFW Walther's Piano
Walther's piano is currently on display at the museum.

Almost everyone knows of the impact that C.F.W. Walther had on Lutheranism in America. It's also well known that he was a master musician, at home behind both the organ and piano.

But did you know that the piano that once belonged to "the Father of The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod" can be seen in Concordia Historical Institute's museum? In fact, it's one of the most popular items in the collection.

Made by the St. Louis Piano Manufacturing Company and measuring 6'9" by 3'6", Walther's piano is painted black with detachable, hand-carved legs. Another special feature of the piano is its ornately carved music stand.

This piece was donated to Concordia Historical Institute before 1927. It can be seen at the CHI museum, along with Dr. Walther's music book, mantle clock and many other Walther items.

Martin Stephan's Cup & Saucer

Stephan's cup and saucer
This cup and saucer set, featuring Rev. Martin Stephan, was presented to Stephan shortly after the Saxons arrived in Missouri. (CHI Archives Photo by Paul Ockrassa)

One of the more unusual items in the Institute's museum collection is a delicate cup and saucer of Meissen porcelain, bearing a picture of Martin Stephan.

Stephan was the Lutheran pastor who led an immigration of some 700 persons from Saxony to Missouri in 1838-39 and was later deposed from office in Perry County.

According to CHI's records, this cup and saucer set was presented to Stephan shortly after the Saxons arrived in Missouri, and it has an interesting heritage. It was donated to the Institute by Miss Clara Loeber in 1943. Miss Loeber inherited it from her mother Marie Loeber (nee Lochner), widow of Rev. Christopher Henry Loeber.

"Stephan" is written on the underside of the cup. The saucer features a cross and the words, in German, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ."

While the Stephan cup and saucer set is one of CHI's most unusual items, it is not presently on display in the museum because it needs restoration and is extremely fragile.

For more information about this or other items in the museum collection, please contact Rev. Mark Loest at (314) 505-7930.

1846 Synod Constitution Draft

A draft of the LCMS constitution
This 1846 draft document pre-dates the forming of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod and can be seen in the CHI Museum for a limited time. (Photo: CHI archives, Forrest Moeckel.)

Concordia Historical Institute Museum is best known for the artifacts in its exhibits that are significant to the history of Lutheranism in America. These items come from the large collection that the museum staff is entrusted to conserve and display.

But the story of our church would be incomplete if artifacts were not accompanied by documents. Documents serve as written testimony to the accuracy of the history being presented. Fortunately, the museum has ready access to the largest archive collection on Lutheranism in America in CHI's archives.

On display in the museum during the 150th anniversary year of The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod is an 1846 draft of the then unorganized synod. The document was printed in St. Louis.

Preliminary meetings were held beginning in 1845 to discuss the forming of a synod. The first such meeting held in September of that year took place in Cleveland, Ohio. At that meeting it was agreed that there was the need to form a new synod.

In May of 1846 another meeting was held in St. Louis. An entire week was spent on the writing of a draft document of which Rev. Wilhelm Sihler later wrote, "we immediately made common copies and sent them to other men who had left the Ohio Synod, and to other friends, inviting them to a conference at Fort Wayne, beginning July 2, where the plan, we said, would be carefully discussed."

The draft from the St. Louis meeting is basically the constitution of Synod adopted a year later. Changes were made in Fort Wayne concerning administration. Of interest is the draft's statement of reason for organization: "The establishment of unity in church government and itr execution, and the largest possible similarity in ceremonies." This was changed in Fort Wayne to read, "The establishment of the largest possible conformity in church government." Ceremonies were to be treated under the business of the organization.

The document in CHI's collection measures 10 inches by 6 and a half inches and totals 16 pages in length.

Constitution on Display: See a Piece of LCMS History

First page of the constitution
The first page of the original constitution of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod can be seen in the CHI Museum. Copies are available through CHI. (Photo by Forrest Moeckel)

As museum curator, I am often asked which of the many artifacts and documents CHI holds in its collections is the most valuable. I must admit I am rather hesitant to answer, simply because value is relative. (Often a desirable and valuable book to a theologian is not considered rare to the antiquarian market. And a nineteenth century desk is a nineteenth century desk, unless it was owned by C.F.W. Walther).

But when pressed, it is always my expressed opinion that the original constitution of the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and Other States is by far the most valuable item that the Synod possesses.

On display in CHI's museum during the 150th anniversary year of The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod is the original constitution document that was signed at the organizational meeting of the Synod at First St. Paul's in Chicago on April 26, 1847.

Written in a beautiful German "running hand," the document contains the constitution and signatures of the charter members.

The document is structured around three basic themes: reasons for organizing, confessional basis, and the Synod's work.

Reasons for organizing are stated in Article I (and are listed on page one of the document, shown in the accompanying photograph). These include: the example of the Apostolic Church (Acts 15); the preservation and furtherance of the unity of pure confession (Eph. 4:3-6, 1 Cor. 1:10) and provision for the common defense against separatism and sectarianism (Rom. 16:17); the protection and preservation of the rights and duties of pastors and congregations; the establishment of the largest possible conformity in church government; the will of the Lord that the diversities of gifts be used for the common good (1 Cor. 12:4-31); united effort to extend the kingdom of God and to make possible the promotion of special church projects (seminary, agenda, hymnal, Book of Concord, schoolbooks, Bible distribution, mission work within and outside of the church).

Article IV, which takes up the Synod's work, includes the directive, "...to start a chronicle of American Lutheranism." This is the beginning of the department of archives and history of the LCMS, which today is incorporated as Concordia Historical Institute, making the Synod's constitution the birth certificate of CHI.

The document in CHI's collection is 7 1/2 inches (19 cm) by 12 inches (30.5 cm) and 24 pages long. Fine photographic reproductions of the document are available as individual prints and framed -- a fine tribute to the 150th Anniversary of Synod -- and a great gift for a pastor or church. For more information please contact Rev. Loest at (314) 505-7930.

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