The Ducal Castle Museum in Gotha, Germany will re-open on October 19 as a museum of art, some of it not seen for 70 years, after 11 million euros (14.5 million dollars) has been spent on renovations.

The stately home was built between 1864 and 1879, based on the model of Italian Renaissance palaces, and was used in recent decades as a natural-history museum.

After the refurbishment, it will shine in its original beauty once again, with wide columned halls and skylights which largely vanished from view during the decades of communist rule in East Germany.

Gotha has been under-appreciated by tourists, but is on its way to becoming an international cultural magnet, says the state of Thuringia’s cultural minister, Christoph Matschie.

The art in the old ducal palace was lost to the Soviet Union after the Second World War and the place was used to educate about bugs and plants with cramped, dark displays. The art was not returned until 1958, but was then scattered at different East German locations.

Soon, visitors will again be able to admire art from Egypt, China and Japan as well as Dutch and German old masters in the original pre-war setting.DPA