The Basel Historical Museum has approximately 1'500 pieces of furniture. About one third of the total stock is permanently exhibited. Generally the furniture of the 15th century to the early 18th century can be found in the Barfüsserkirche, while the furniture of the period after about 1720 is set out in the Haus zum Kirschgarten.
The Late Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque periods are represented in the Museum by a range of chests, cupboards, tables, sideboards and beds of international importance. Certain pieces of furniture have particular weight from the point of view not only of typology and craftsmanship but also of provenance. The churches and monasteries, the town councils, guilds and wealthy citizens that formerly commissioned or owned them are known.
Several pieces of furniture are associated with famous personalities such as Erasmus of Rotterdam, Basilius Amerbach or Jacob Burckhardt. The largest part of the collection consists of everyday bourgeois furniture of the 18th and 19th century. The emphasis has been placed on furniture from Basel; however, it has not been limited to objects produced in Basel, but extends to furniture used in Basel, and thus to pieces imported from Paris in the 18th century and Milan and Mainz in the 19th century.
The Museum's holdings of furniture as a whole may be divided into two large groups: the general collection, which has about 600 pieces of furniture of all typological categories, and the special collection of 800 chairs. The latter includes the collection of chairs from the former Museum of Applied Arts, which dates up to very recent times.
The furniture collection is complemented by that of fixtures such as panels and portals, and also by architectural elements made of wood. This testimony to the art of joinery, usually originating from houses that have been torn down, has been built into the Museum or has been preserved as fragments to serve as sources for the history of architecture.