Museums, Frankfurt am Main
Update 2015: The Jewish Museum in Frankfurt will remain closed for about three years for renovation and construction work. It will re-open in 2018 in a geatly expanded form, including large exhibitions on the long history of the Frank and Stern families, the ancestors of Anna Frank.
From 1922 to 1938 there was a museum in Frankfurt called the Museum of Jewish Antiquity. It was destroyed by the Nazis during their infamous nationwide pogrom night in November 1938.
Exactly fifty years later, on November 9, 1988, this new Jewish museum was opened in the Rothschild Palace on the right bank of the Main River.
There are permanent exhibits on "Jews in Frankfurt from 1100 to 1800", "Jewish Life and Jewish Festivals", "Jews in Frankfurt from 1800 to 1950" and "Mayer Amschel Rothschild and his sons" -- about the Jewish banking family whose Frankfurt branch lived in this very house in the 19th century.
On the ground floor there are also temporary exhibits, for instance on the work of the Jewish painter Felix Nussbaum (1904-1944) or on the deportation of the Jews from Frankfurt by the Nazis between 1941 and 1945.
The first photo shows visitors in the exhibit on the development of Jewish rights in Frankfurt during the nineteenth century.
Second photo: A visitor in the exhibit on Jewish life and festivals.
Third photo: A painting in the Jewish Museum
Fourth photo: View from the back window of the Jewish Museum. For information on these skyscrapers, see the Frankfurt Skyline Countdown on my Land Hessen page.
Fifth photo: The Jewish Museum Stand at the Museum River Bank Festival in August 2005
The Jewish Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Wednesday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. It is closed on Mondays.
As of 2013, admission is six Euros for adults and three Euros for children, students and the disabled. This includes the audio guide and admission to the affiliated Museum Judengasse.
Dinosaurs! This place is great for kids, and you'll find the place full of excited young faces running from one exhibit to the next. The stars of the show are downstairs in the main hall - life-size models of the most famous dinosaurs of the Jurassic age: a Tyrannosaurus-Rex, a Brontosaurus (now called Apatosaurus), a Tricerotops and a Pterodactyl suspended from the ceiling. The museum also contains a collection of fossils the nearby Messel Pit (one of the most significant fossil sites in Europe) and a wide variety of stuffed animals. The kids will probably only like the monsters in the main hall, though.
Just a short ways downstream from the Städel is the Liebieghaus, a small but exquisite museum of sculpture not only from ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman times, but also from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The newest piece is I believe from the beginning of the 19th century, unless I have overlooked something newer.
The items on display are mostly rather small, so you can expect to be impressed and intrigued rather than overwhelmed.
As of 2013, the museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00, Thursdays from 10:00 to 21:00. Closed on Mondays. The price of admission is now 7 Euros, or 5 Euros for those who are entitled to a reduction.
Second photo: The Gelehrter, a medieval sculpture from Nürnberg.
Third photo: There is a pleasant little café on the ground floor, with shady outdoor seating in the summer. In August 2006 we went there in the afternoon for part of a VT-meeting. From left to right: Holger (HORSCHECK), Christine (tini58de), Bernd (Bernd_L) and Andrea (Jadefrau).
Fourth photo: Upstairs in the Liebieghaus you can see this bust of Susette Gontard (1769-1802) by Landolin Ohmacht (1760-1834). Susette Gontard was the wife of a wealthy Frankfurt merchant named Jakob Friedrich Gontard, but she is famous because of her love affair with the poet Friedrich Hölderlin -- as I have described in some detail on my Bad Homburg page.
Fifth photo: VT member Lacristina at Liebieghaus in June 2014. That evening she and I went to the Frankfurt Opera together and saw a performance of Tiefland by Eugen d’Albert.
Two facts about humour: First, humour is a matter of taste and second, Germans are not renown for it (taste and humour). Therefore, I can not say if you will enjoy Caricatura in Frankfurt. My opinion about it is rather mixed. Furthermore, the museum lives more from temporary exhibitions than from their collection so that fun in here may also differ from time to time for the same individual.
There are three floors of exhibition space with the uppermost of it reserved for exhibitions from Frankfurt artists. Many of those belong to the so-called new Frankfurt school which had their works published in two Frankfurt-based satirical magazines: Pardon and Titanic. While Pardon has kicked itself out of existence, Titanic can be compared to a German version of the “Private Eye”. It is highly political and you'll need some background of German politics to understand the one or other joke. There is a room on the top floor where you can even read all past Titanic issues on computers.
The temporary exhibition I visited was about works from three well-known caricaturists: Hurzlmeier, Sowa and Kahl. The exhibition was not limited to classic caricatures, but also included oil paintings and other works. The piece which attracted my attention was a set of two “airfix” WWII boxes with “German Infantry” and “British Commandos” written on them. They contained what appeared to be human bones. The collection of oil paintings portraiting dictators as lovely amiable figures was fine as well. Many others unfortunately did not even give me a smile...
Depending on exhibition plan around 1 ½ hours for a museum visit. Entry fee is 6 EUR (3 for concessions, prices as of 2013). The museum is located in the Leinwandhaus, a former cloth trading hall from around 1400. Its Gothic features are well visible. The elk sculpture in front of the entrance goes back to a now famous quote from one of the Frankfurt New School artists. It is a pun about people changing their mind (“Die groessten Kritiker der Elche waren frueher selber welche”).
The Jewish Museum has a dependance in the area where once the Frankfurt Ghetto stood. It is smaller than the main house, but has a strong focus on the Judengasse, the former Jewish Ghetto in Frankfurt. The fundaments of six houses have been preserved, including that of the house called “Steinernes Haus” which included a mikveh (ritual bathroom).
Some pictures and text are exactly the same as in the main house, but that should not disturb you from enjoying the exhibition. You will learn a lot about life in the narrow houses and the history of that spot. This includes also the rediscovery in the late 1980s and the efforts to preserve the last remains of the Ghetto. Round up your visit by visiting the memorial place next to the museum including the old Jewish cemetery. A description of that place is found in my tip about the former Boerneplatz Synagogue.
Information in English is available in the same quality and quantity as that in German. Plan one to 1 ½ hours for a visit. Entry fee is 3,00 EUR (1,50 EUR for concessions, all as of late 2013). For 6,00 EUR (3,00 EUR concessions) you can buy a ticket which includes both houses of the Jewish Museum. Like some other Frankfurt Museums, both houses of the Jewish Museum do not charge entry fees on the last Saturday of a month.
I am glad about every Jewish Museum that founds a right balance between Jews as victims on one side and the celebration and documentation of Jewish life on the other side. Frankfurt's Jewish museum is a good example how you can emphasize the aspects of Jewish culture while remembering the victims as well.
The exhibition contains three parts, one about Jewish history in Frankfurt, one about Jewish culture in General (with a lot of Judaica and a twenty minute - film in Germany about Jews in Frankfurt) and another about Jewish life in the 19th and 20th century in Frankfurt – including the Shoa/Holocaust. A part of the museum is located in the former mansion of the Rothschild family. You can still see some of the 18th century style decorations in hallways and ceilings.
At the time of my visit, there was an exhibition called “1938” about Jewish artists in Nazi Germany. 1938 was a year full of changes for Jews in Germany and that included also repressions for the artist. In every room of the exhibition, two artists were presented – one Jewish and one Nazi-friendly German artist with similar biographies. The floor was redesigned for this exhibition – it consists/consisted of different materials. Some felt different to what they looked like and at some spots you had the feeling that you were sinking into the ground. This was done to symbolize the situation of Jewish artists in 1938 – they had to be careful with every step they made.
A good museum which gives you the insight into Jewish culture as part from Frankfurt's history. Information in English is available for all exhibitions. The entry fee (6 EUR permanent exhibition, 9 EUR including temporary exhibition, all as of 2013) includes a free entry to the Judengasse Museum with a further exhibition. Tickets can also be purchased at the Judengasse Museum, but keep in mind that the 3 EUR ticket (2013) enables you to see the Judengasse museum only, not the main exhibition. As of late 2013, no entry fee on the last Saturday of the month. Plan 3 hours for the visit of the main building. The Judengasse Museum is described in a separate tip.
You and your luggage will be checked for arms and dangerous items. There is a security check similar to the one at the airport, but not as thorough. You may know it from other Jewish museums in Germany like Berlin.
Frankfurt's Historical Museum originates from 1872. It was moved to current location in 1955, expanded in 1972. Currently (probably until 2017) a new exhibition building is being constructed replacing the former building from the 1970s.
The old buildings house only a part of the collection. This includes the big city model which documents how Frankfurt's old town looked like before WWII. The “collections” - part of the museum consists of private collections which found their way into the museum. It includes items from expeditions, miniature paintings and many more. The art collection from Julius Heyman, a Jewish banker, has an interesting history. Against his last will, it was dissolved and sold in the Nazi years. Today, most items found their way back into the museum.
The site facing the Rhine includes the remains of an imperial palace as well as the Rententurm, a tower which was used as part of the city defence but also contained the city treasure. Here, you will see an exhibition about Frankfurt's role in the middle ages and the history of this very building. The temporary exhibition was about 18th and 19th century architecture. Due to the lack of exhibition space, city history exhibitions are limited to parts of the exhibitions above.
Though you will not see the “full monty” until 2017, the place gives you an impression of city history in its own way. Plan around 2 hours for a museum visit, of course also depending on your interest in certain parts of the exhibition. Entry is 6,00 EUR (3,00 EUR for concessions). It belongs to a handful of museums in Frankfurt which offer free entry on the last Saturday of the month. Information in English is limited unfortunately.
Frankfurt's main art museum has a huge collection with some world-class paintings. The modern art section in the basement is huge. The first floor houses art from around1800 up to WWII while the uppermost floor has the old masters. In my opinion, the highlights are Vermeer's Geographer, Tischbein's famous portrait of Goethe, Veneto's portrait of a young woman as well as some Dürers, Rembrandt, Hals', Munchs and Kirchners.
When I visited the museum there was a special Dürer exhibition. I admire Dürer for his style and his influence on art. However, late medieval and early renaissance religious art is not the kind of art I can enjoy for hours. Therefore, the exhibition was a bonus for me rather than the reason to visit the museum.
Photography is allowed in the main exhibition, but only handheld cameras, no flash and no commercial purposes. For the temporary exhibitions, ask the staff as it depends on the exhibition itself.
Planet 3.0 is a temporary exhibition which is mainly about world climate and the influence on life. Often-heard topics like carbon dioxide emissions are well-explained. The lower floor covers the history of our planet and the climatic changes. In the upper floor, you will see how human impact has changed the world climate as well as a lot on current research, e.g. Polar expeditions. Everything is shown in German and English.
The exhibition will be in Frankfurt until mid-January 2014. If you missed it here and are interested in the topic, there's the chance to see the exhibition in Dresden where it will be displayed for most of 2014.
Be aware that you have to buy the tickets and the audioguide in the main building. The exhibition is in the nearby Wolfgang-Steubing-Halle where there is no ticket desk. Due to current construction works, the way between the two buildings can be longer than expected and even a little awkward.
I liked the exhibition and would recommend it. However, I think that it is a little overpriced. 8,00 EUR for the entry fee, 3,00 EUR for the audioguide (German or English only). Plan a little more than an hour for the exhibition.
The majority of Frankfurt's museums are lined up along the Schaumainkai at the southern riverbank, which has since the 1980s been dubbed the Museumsufer.
Städelsches Kunstinstitut, opened in 1878
Liebieg Sculpture Museum opened in 1909.
Museum für Kommunikation opened In 1958
Museum für Angewandte Kunst opened in 1965
Museum der Weltkulturen opened in 1973
Filmmuseum and Architecture Museum opened in 1984
Ikonenmuseum opened in 1990
Museum Giersch opened in 2000 in the Holzmann.
Johann Wolfgang Goethe was born in this house in 1749 and spent his formative years here until the age of 26, when he moved to Weimar.
Once you pass through a Rococo garden hall bearing busts of his parents, note the massive water pump in the kitchen on the ground floor, a true luxury at the time. His parents' initials (JCG and CEG) have been wrought into the iron banister leading to the second floor. There, the music room presents a touching portrait of the Goethe children, including the others who didn't live long. A unique astronomical clock from 1746 stands on the next floor. On the top floor, you'll find the poet's puppet theater, as well as his private room, an inspiring place to work on the first version of Faust. The complementary Frankfurter-Goethe Museum on the ground floor features a collection of portraits of the writer at various ages, as well as period works like Caspar David Friedrich's
Admission: 7,00 EUR
Monday through Saturday: 10am – 6pm
Sunday and on public holidays: 10am – 5.30pm
The great German writer Johann Wolfgang Goethe, or von Goethe as he was known in his later years after being elevated to the aristocracy, was born here in Frankfurt am Main on August 28, 1749. The house where he was born and grew up has been reconstructed (after having been destroyed by bombs in the Second World War) and a small museum and lecture hall have been added.
Opening hours of the Goethe House and Museum are Monday-Friday 10 am – 5.30 pm; Sunday and public holidays 10 am – 5.30 pm; Saturday 10 am - 6 pm; last Saturday in the month 10 am - 8 pm. Admission is EUR 5.00 for adults, EUR 2.50 for students.
For those who don't speak German, I suppose I should point out that the name "Goethe" is pronounced with two syllables, sort of like a cross between "Ger-te" and "Gur-ta" but without really pronouncing the R. The main thing is to give it two syllables and put the stress on the first, otherwise people won't have a clue who you are talking about.
1. Goethe House and Museum
2. Signs near the Goethe House showing the beginnings of the Hölderlin Path (22 km) and the Goethe Trail (11 km). I have described the Hölderlin Path in some detail on my Bad Homburg page.
Frankfurt has some two dozen museums, most of which are located on or near the Main River on the Museumsufer or Museum River Bank. An elegant suspension bridge, the Holbeinsteg, leads directly to the outstanding Städel art museum. This bridge is for pedestrians and cyclists only.
If you want to go to several museums you can get Museumsufer Ticket, which costs EUR 12.00 and gets you into all Frankfurt museums on two consecutive days, or a Museumsufer Card, which is what I have. This costs EUR 65.00 for all Frankfurt museums for the entire year.
Second photo: The Städel from the Holbeinsteg during the Museum River Bank Festival 2005.
Third photo: The German Museum of Architecture, Schaumainkai 43, Tel. (069) 212-38844, http://www.dam-online.de.
Fourth photo: The German Film Museum, Schaumainkai 41, Tel. (069) 212-38830, http://www.deutsches-filmmuseum.de.
Fifth photo: The Museum of Applied Art (Museum für Angewandte Kunst), Schaumainkai 17, Tel. (069) 212-34037. I took this photo from across the river during the Museum River Bank Festival 2005.
Jules Massenet (1842-1912) wrote an opera Werther, based on Goethe's best-selling novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, which is that one that made him famous across Europe when he was 25. (I have seen different productions of Massenet's Werther in Brussels, Darmstadt, Würzburg, Freiburg in Breisgau and Frankfurt am Main.)
Goethe's monumental dramatic poem Faust is much too long for an opera, but several composers have made operas out of parts of it:
--Arrigo Boito (1842-1918) used it as the basis of his opera Mefistofele, which has been performed recently (in the original Italian) both in Frankfurt and in Karlsruhe.
--Ferruccio Busoni (1866-1924) wrote an opera called Doktor Faust, which I recently saw in Stuttgart. Busoni based his opera on the medieval Faust legend, which was also Goethe's source.
--Charles Gounod (1818-1893) wrote a Faust opera which is was performed several years ago in Frankfurt (in the original French) with Andrew Richards as Faust and Mark S. Doss as Méphistophélès.
If you ever wanted to see the inside of a World War II bunker then this is the place to go. Nowadays it has been converted into a Science Center / Museum and event location. They show things like Holography, Optical Illusions, 3D-Anaglyphs, Anamorphosis, Stereoscopy, Mathematical Games, Stereoscopic Art, Puzzles, Lenticulars, MagicEye and tons of other stuff. You can take pictures and touch everything (except the staff ;-). In addition this musem is deep into qr codes - you can get a discount on the entrance fee by scanning the right qr code on the lotto or see the largest qr code in Europe (on the back of the museum). If you have a eBike oder electric car you can recharge there as well!
A great place to be for youngsters / small kids until grown ups. And they speak several languages there as well. If the owner is there he might can give a a view to the skyline from the terrace of his event space.