In 1995 after ten years of planning the Lorsch Museum opened its doors. Across the King’s hall this local museum began as a factory for jam and artificial honey, had been vacant for a long time, and is now operated by three sponsors: The first floor is shared by a museum for tobacco and for the history of the abbey, the second and third floor contained the Ethnological section of the State Museum of Hesse in Darmstadt between 1995 and 2011.
The Tobacco Museum developed from an exhibition of the 'Heimat- und Kulturverein Lorsch' to one of the most important German and European special collections. The round trip starts with an introduction to the history of consuming tobacco based on its discovery in America without being confined to smoking only: Tobacco can be chewed or snorted. And even smoking shows a rich culture-historical development proved by impressive exhibits: from magnificent students' and reserves' pipes over filigrees cigar's holder made of meerschaum to the first cigarettes. Art and crafts adopt this topic! The lower part of this museum is characterized by a local atmosphere: agricultural equipment, cigars' press, cutting machines, powder spray, cigar bands, and old photos show what some elder citizens of Lorsch can still tell about the past: a work-intensive, young, and elder people challenging industry! At the museum there are two exhibits written in the Guinness Book of Records: the world's biggest functioning pipe as well as the biggest collection of powder spray devices from all over the world.
The section about the abbey's history maintained by the Administration for State Castles and Gardens in Hesse gives a quick overview about the most important topics and eras during its history – the development of the Carolingian abbey beginning with the monastic culture during the Late Middle Ages to the manorialism in Lorsch situated from the Rhine river mouth to the East of Switzerland. The 'staging' of an early medieval scriptorium prepares for the library later following in Lorsch. Besides, an overview about the history of events and of research helps to get to know the sources better, which told us about the former abbey.
The ethnological section of the State Museum Hesse in Darmstadt has been starting to retreat: A new location is needed for a collection of 'folk art' begun in the time of the Grand Duchy in the three provinces Southern Hesse, Rhine Hesse, and Upper Hesse. The second level containing a section about wood and forest is provided for exhibitions about different topics that are offered by the community or province. Only on the third floor there is an ethnological remnant left – impressive exhibits about the history of private kitchens as well as topics like modest and sophisticated living called 'smallest room', which culture anthropologists are very interested in: From a chamber pot to the English water closet, from an elegant travel toilette to a simple outhouse they are all represented – as well as exhibits from the early history of bathrooms.
In the medium term the museum will be expanding its section about the monastery's history focused on the library, which is completely available digitally as Bibliotheca Laureshamensis since 2014. By now research has been important for the development of Lorsch's writing styles and the characteristics of the scriptorium, but it would be nice to prospectively work more on the contents of the library: What was copied in Lorsch, by what could monks and canons feel exalted and become educated? There are three focal points that may even correspond with different locations of the library at the monastery: The liturgics must have been close to the sacristy, the classic literature close to schools in Lorsch, and the large collection of patristic texts also with many rare documents must have dominated the armory of all monks. Lorsch's Book of Gospels – Lorsch's Pharmacopoeia – Lorsch's Vergil: Big names carry the title of the abbey at the Weschnitz into the world of scholars in past times and today.
At the museum there are further important areas featured: The Paul-Schnitzer hall has become a popular event location, and together with the foyer it is being rent for private and business purposes by the Lorsch redevelopment company. City and province use it for conferences, presentations, workshops, and small, exacting exhibitions.
The basement of the museum is getting used by the 'Heimat- und Kulturverein', and by the city Lorsch but it is not officially accessible. Lorsch's collections, the depot of the 'Heimatverein', the storage for printed papers, and the city archive whose inventory dates back to the second half of the 17th century are located here. The archive is taken care of by a volunteer.