From Place of Learning to Forum for Reflection
The Guiding Principles of the historisches museum frankfurt
The historisches museum frankfurt has its origins in collections of the city and its citizens dating back to the fifteenth century. Founded in 1877/78 on the basis of civil initiatives, it is the oldest museum in Frankfurt to be financed by the municipality. Since its founding, its mission has been the preservation, scientific investigation and mediation of historical objects and images of the trade-fair town. Today the museum has at its disposal the most extensive collections pertaining to the history of culture and art in the city and region of Frankfurt am Main.
"Culture for Everyone"
The museum's guiding conception was last extensively revised in 1972/75. With the slogans "place of learning versus temple of the muses!" and "culture for everyone", the historisches museum launched a process by which the museum would become first and foremost a place of learning open to all strata of the population. The socio-historical issues of historical scholarship became the new guideline for the content-related work carried out by the museum staff.
Thirty-five years later, the historisches museum is once again renewing its underlying concept. As in 1972, alteration and new construction measures are providing the occasion for change. The historical buildings – including the Staufer Saalhof, one of the city's oldest erect buildings, and the Toll Tower ("Rententurm"), an element of the Late Mediaeval town fortifications – are being restored in keeping with the standards of historical monument preservation. The planned new construction will create a striking museum architecture which merges with the complex urban-architectural situation on the Römerberg in a manner as sensitive as it is modern. A new museum square will forge the link with the structures of the old town destroyed in 1944. The construction measures will prospectively be completed in 2016.
An Understanding about the Present and Future
This time, the historisches museum is transforming from a specialized historical museum to a City History Museum. It will become a centre of information, reflection and discussion about Frankfurt, offering the multi-faceted explanations and backgrounds of the city's past as a frame of reference. As a forum for the important topics concerning the municipal society, it will contribute to the process by which that society comes to an understanding about its present and future. With its collections, exhibitions and events, the museum will place as much emphasis on reacting to the present as it does to raising questions about the future.
The museum will adopt a new participatory orientation which takes the wealth of its visitors' experience and knowledge seriously and makes use of it as an integral element. As before, the new historisches museum will be directed toward all of the city's residents. Now, however, it will address itself specifically to the numerous new citizens from a wide range of the world's cultures, as well as to the international guests visiting the trade-fair town and transportation hub Frankfurt.
The kinder museum to be reintegrated by 2016 presents interactive exhibitions designed especially for kids from six to fourteen years of age. The caricatura museum in the Leinwandhaus and the Höchster Porzellan-Museum im Kronberger Haus direct their attention to specialized areas.
Spiral staircase in the gutted Burnitz Building, monument restoration measures (October 2009) (c) hmf, photo: H. Ziegenfusz