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In the Collector's Museum, Frankfurt collectors and donors are presented in twelve rooms. Special exhibitions are shown in the 13th collector's room. For young people and children, a children's trail leads through the Collector's Museum. The intervention track "Change of View – Tracing Racism" takes a critical look at individual exhibits.

Hier zeigt ein Bild Besucher in der Sammlung Waldschmidt
Besucher*innen in der Sammlung Waldschmidt. CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF
Ein Bild zeigt den Globus von Johannes Schöner aus dem Jahr 1515
Schöner Johann Erdglobus um 1515 Holz Pappmache Papier CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF, Foto: Uwe Dettmar
Hier zeigt ein Bild Besucher in der Sammlung Waldschmidt Ein Bild zeigt den Globus von Johannes Schöner aus dem Jahr 1515

The Museum of Johann Martin Waldschmidt in the City Library

The Frankfurt City Library became open to the public at the end of the 17th century and was given its first full-time librarian in the person of the lawyer and private collector Johann Martin Waldschmidt.

The library collected not only books, but also portraits of deserving citizens, pastors and scholars, busts and coins of Roman emperors, valuable globes and scientific instruments, ancient soil finds from the city's territory, wind instruments from the city's 16th-century chapel music and valuable gifts to the council – such as the "English Monument", a ceremonial goblet in the shape of a column left by English religious refugees in 1557.

The Frankfurt City Library, whose roots go back to the Middle Ages, became the first museum-like collection in Frankfurt open to the public in the 17th century. Its librarian at the time, Waldschmidt, was already able to list paintings, coins, antiquities, natural objects, instruments and sculptures in the catalogues in addition to books. But how did such an extraordinary universal collection come about?

The core of the city library is formed by the old council library and the library of the Barfüßermönche (=Franziscans). But from the 16th century onwards, the library did not only contain books. Rare, precious and strange objects were also gradually kept here. In 1691, the first full-time librarian was employed, Johann Martin Waldschmidt (1650-1706), who studied law. He was also educated in theology, history and natural sciences. In his oath of office, he had to swear to ensure that "in addition to the books", other rare things and curiosities would be brought to the library.

The collection of the city library was diverse from the beginning. There were astronomical and scientific instruments, archaeological finds and excavations from the Frankfurt area, minerals and fossils, ivory, gold and silversmith's work, a painting gallery of learned men and a coin collection. Looking down on it all were portraits of Roman emperors, whose life and rule were intended to be a model for living people. Outstanding objects in the collection are the earth globe by Johannes Schöner, made in 1515, and the celestial globe by the Langgren brothers, made in 1594.

Waldschmidt himself as also a passionate collector and owned a natural history cabinet with shells and minerals as well as a coin collection. It was thanks to him that the City Library became the first public museum collection in Frankfurt. Library visitors had the opportunity to read the books and view the objects twice a week at fixed times.

Das Foto zeigt einen Visierhelm aus dem 16. Jahrhundert
Visierhelm aus dem 16. Jahrhundert CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF, Foto: Uwe Dettmar
Besucher betrachten die Waffen der Sammlung Fellner
Waffensammlung Fellner CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF, Foto: Stefanie Kösling
Das Foto zeigt einen Visierhelm aus dem 16. Jahrhundert Besucher betrachten die Waffen der Sammlung Fellner

Weapons for Frankfurt

The weapons collection of the Frankfurt citizen Alexander Fellner (1800-1883) has been newly researched for presentation in the permanent exhibition and has undergone extensive restoration.
It is the entire collection that Fellner amassed. He collected sabres and rapiers, pistols and rifles, armour and chain mail, crossbows and shields, helmets and halberds; as well as the relevant specialist literature. The valuable weapons collection was originally to be bequeathed to the Germanic National Museum in Nuremberg. But when a municipal historical museum was also founded in his home town in 1877, Fellner decided to donate the entire collection to the city of Frankfurt. Since then, the pieces have formed the core of the HMF's militaria colection. 

Michael Fellner (1720-1798) came to the Free Imperial City of Frankfurt from Regensburg. By the third generation, the family had already firmly established itself in Frankfurt society. The children, like the son Johann Christian, were involved in trade or banking. Only Ferdinand, the eldest, chose a fine arts profession and became an artist. Two of the pictures of the emperor in the Römer were painted by him. His younger brother, Carl Constanz Victor, was mayor of Frankfurt when the Prussians entered the city in 1866. Another brother, Christian Alexander (1800-1883), was the only one who could afford to live as a "burgher's son". Together with his sister Margarete Friederike, Christian Alexander Fellner lived in Hermesweg on Anlagenring. Besides studying plants – Christian Alexander started his own botanical collection – he was particularly interested in old weapons.

Illustration mit Zeichnungen von Raumen und Schmetterlingen
Chenille du Saule, La déplacée kolorierter Stich 1792 CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF, Foto: Uwe Dettmar
Besucher betrachten die Sammlung Gerning
Besucher in der Sammlung Gerning CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF, Foto: Stefanie Kösling
Illustration mit Zeichnungen von Raumen und Schmetterlingen Besucher betrachten die Sammlung Gerning

The Collection of the Frankfurt Banker Johann Christian Gerning (1745-1802)

Butterflies were the passion of the Frankfurt banker Johann Christian Gerning. His collection of 50,000 specimens was an institution among European entomologists in the late 18th century.

In his house in Frankfurt's Schnurgasse, later on Roßmarkt, Gerning also assembled an extensive collection of prints about Frankfurt, which came to the city library in 1805. Johann Christian Gerning owned a comprehensive collection of butterflies (50,000 specimens in 160 boxes), insects and birds, which was repeatedly used as a reference by European entomologists in the 18th century, among them the butterflies owned by Maria Sibylla Merian. Today, the insects belong to the Wiesbaden Museum. 

Gerning's house also contained an extensive collection of Frankofurtensia, hand drawings of views of the Frankfurt area and architectural pieces of the city's most handsome buildings, as well as copperplate engravings on the history of Frankfurt. In 1805, Gerning's son bequeathed this collection to the city library, from where it was transferred to the Historical Museum in 1877.

Das Foto zeigt eine Nautilusmuschel.
Nautilusmuschel C. Bellekin um 1660 CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF, Foto: Uwe Dettmar
Besucher betrachten Münzen aus der Sammlung Glock/Barckhaus
Besucher*innen betrachten Münzen in der Sammlung Glock/Barckhaus CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF, Foto: Stefanie Kösling
Das Foto zeigt eine Nautilusmuschel. Besucher betrachten Münzen aus der Sammlung Glock/Barckhaus

The coin collection of Anton Philipp Glock (1696-1721) and the Art Cabinet of Catharina Elisabeth von Barckhaus (1696-1749)

The tour of the Collector's Museum begins with two valuable pieces of collector's furniture: 18th-century citizens collected and displayed their treasures in art caibinets.

The Baroque cabinet of Heinrich Bernhard and Catharina Elisabeth von Barckhaus was donated to the City Library in 1752, along with the turned ivory sculptures, decorated shells and corals, wax paintings and crucifixes. Also on display is the coin cabinet of Anton Philipp Glock (1696-1721) with 3,296 Greek and Roman coins. It was donated to the City Library by his widow (Catharina von Barckhaus) in 1749.

The beginning of the HMF's coin collection dates from 1749, the year of Goethe's birth. In that year, Catharina Elisabeth von Barckhaus, widowed Glock, donated her late husband's collection to the Frankfurt City Library. The syndic Anton Philipp Glock had collected 3,296 Greek and Roman coins. In addition, there was a bequest of 1,000 gulden for the care of the collection. This action became a model. Thanks to endowment funds, a collection of coronation medals was acquired next. Today, the collection of Frankfurt coins, medals and orders is almost complete, embedded in one of the most important collections of German coins worldwide.

After the death of Catharina Elisabeth von Barckhaus and her second husband, her art cabinet also came to the City Library. It contained valuable objects that had been skilfully worked. It is the only example of this princely form of collection and presentation in the civic city of Frankfurt.

The confectioner Johann Valentin Prehn assembled his private "cosmos" in the form of a private chamber of art and curiosities in his residential and commercial building on the Zeil.

The collection of Johann Valentin Prehn (1749-1821) could be seen as one of the typical universal collections that many wealthy patricians, bankers, merchants and members of the educated elite in Frankfurt possessed, containing not only works of art but also natural objects, ethnological objects, curiosities and a corresponding library. But Prehn's case is different. His collection has a special feature: Prehn had assembled more than 800 small-format paintings in 32 wooden folding boxes, a painting gallery in miniature, as it were. There has probably never been a comparable collection in Germany; for this reason alone, it is an important testimony to the history of collecting and taste. But Prehn's "Small Cabinet" also contains important paintings; the most famous is the Paradise Garden of an Upper Rhenish Master from around 1410/20 (on permanent loan to the Städel).

In 2021, the HMF dedicated a
special exhibition to Prehn's collection.. There is also a research project and an online database on the picture collection. In the Trailer on YouTube you can get first insights into the collection.

The "Prehnische Gemäldekabinett", as the heirs wanted it to be called, consists of originals, copies and fragments by artists from the 15th to the 19th century. The focus is on German, Dutch and Flemish painters of the Renaissance and Baroque as well as on the works of contemporary artists of the region, including numerous well-known names such as Cranach and Holbein or Breughel and Bril, Van Goyen and Ostade, Titian and Carracci, Callot and Fragonard, Merian and Flegel. Prehn had a special preference for landscapes, sacred history paintings, portraits and genre pieces. Occasionally a penchant for curiosities, for amusing, bizarre and erotic subjects is noticeable. Prehn also occasionally included fragments of damaged or destroyed paintings with sometimes surprising details in his cabinet, including a fragment by the important Dutch painter Geertgen tot Sint Jans.

Ernst Friedrich Carl Prehn withdrew the Small Cabinet from the collection's auction in 1829, apparently because he wanted it to be preserved in the city as a legacy from his father. The City of Frankfurt accepted the cabinet as a donation in 1839 and transferred it to the City Library at Schöne Aussicht, where it could be viewed from 1842. The Städel administrator Johann David Passavant completely reorganised the paintings in the cabinet according to national schools on twelve large and eight small wall panels and wrote a catalogue of the collection. Together with other paintings in the city's art collection, Prehn's Cabinet was exhibited in the rooms of the Saalhof from 1867 onwards, before it came into the possession of the HMF in 1878, where it was presented in the rooms of the building shared with the City Archive. It was not until 1988 that the museum's then curator of paintings, Kurt Wettengl, undertook a reconstruction based on the auction catalogue of 1829 and rearranged the paintings in 32 boxes.

Zwei Museumsbesucherinnen betrachten Gemälde aus der Sammlung Daems
Nacht der Museen 2016 CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF, Foto: Stefanie Kösling
Das Gemälde zeigt das Franziskanerkloster in Igarac, davor eine Landschaft mit Palmen.
Gemälde des Franziskanerklosters in Igarac, CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF
Zwei Museumsbesucherinnen betrachten Gemälde aus der Sammlung Daems Das Gemälde zeigt das Franziskanerkloster in Igarac, davor eine Landschaft mit Palmen.

The painting collection of Johann Georg Christian Daems (1774-1856)

Petersburg hanging: Johann Christian Georg Daems collected over 200 paintings. The majority of the paintings are by Dutch, Flemish and Frankfurt artists of the 16th to 19th centuries. Browse the trailer on YouTube.

Among the paintings are numerous masterpieces, such as the landscape depiction mad by the painter Frans Post (1612-1680) of Brazil. In Daems' collector's room, visitors can see what a "Petersburg hanging" looked like. The contents play just as important a role as the formats of the paintings. The designation of the hanging goes back to the densely hung walls of the Petersburg Hermitage.

Johann Christian Georg Dames acquired his knowledge of art on journeys to Italy, France and England. The Daems collection has been preserved almost in its entirety at the HMF and bears witness to the collecting zeal of a Frankfurt citizen from the first half of the 19th century who was particularly fond of Dutch painters. The collection of the Frankfurt merchant forms an important foundation of the HMF's painting collection. He bequeathed it to the city of Frankfurt in 1845.

Das Foto zeigt das Morgensternsche Minituarkabinett III
Das Morgensternsche Miniaturkabinett III aktualisierte Hängung CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF, Foto: Horst Ziegenfusz
Eine Gruppe von Kindern betrachtet eines der Morgensternschen Miniaturkabinette
Dokumentation Sammler- und Stiftermuseum Kinderspur 2012 CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF; Foto: Uwe Dettmar
Das Foto zeigt das Morgensternsche Minituarkabinett III Eine Gruppe von Kindern betrachtet eines der Morgensternschen Miniaturkabinette

The Morgenstern Miniatures Cabinet (1796-1843)

Many artists collect works of all kinds – whether out of pure passion, as an expression of admiration for other artists, as an aesthetic manifesto or for reasons of social prestige.

Thus, the painters Johann Ludwig Ernst Morgenstern (1738-1819), his son Johann Friedrich Morgenstern (1777-1844) and his grandson Carl Morgenstern (1811-1893) also possessed an extensive art collection. This included a very special attraction: "The Morgenstern Miniature Cabinet". This is what it says on the gables of three cabinets that belonged to the Morgenstern family of artists. This painting gallery en miniature, created between 1798 and 1843, is an extraordinary testimony to the history of painting and restoration and is now on display in the altar room of the Staufer Tower in the Collector's Museum.

In 1789, Johann Ludwig Ernst took the momentous decision – as he himself wrote – to collect for his own pleasure a collection of small copies made by him on a tapered scale after the best originals of famous masters of old, middle and recent times and to arrange them in three portable cabinets. Until his death in 1821, he created more than 150 miniature copies for the cabinets; after that, Johann Friedrich took over the reins and produced a good 50 copies in his turn; only three pictures were made by his grandson Carl. The focus, which is typical for Frankfurt, is on the Dutch painters of the Golden Age, Morgenstern's great models, and on their German successors of the 17th and 18th centuries. The family of painters had a special preference for landscape and genre paintings, two genres that had gained importance in Dutch art. A third extensive group consists of profane and sacred history paintings.

Carl Morgenstern (or his mother) sold the miniature cabinet in 1857 to the Frankfurt art dealer Anton Baer for 1,800 florins, presumably as a result of financial difficulties. The Kronberg art dealer Uwe Opper succeeded in tracking down the cabinets in England, acquiring them from two different owners in 1979/80 and bringing them back to Frankfurt. The middle cabinet came into the possession of the banking house Gebrüder Bethmann, which made it available to the Goethe Museum on permanent loan. The two outer cabinets were purchased by the City of Frankfurt for the HMF.

The Morgenstern Family of Painters

Johann Ludwig Ernst Morgenstern (1738-1819) worked in Frankfurt as a painter, copyist and restorer, as an art agent and dealer. After his apprenticeship and years of travelling, he finally settled in Frankfurt in 1772. He became a citizen of Frankfurt in 1776, delivered his masterpiece to the town hall and married Anna Maria Alleinz in the same year.
Morgenstern's independent oeuvre includes battle paintings inspired by Rugendas and Wouwerman, some city vedute and prison interiors, and mainly Dutch-influenced church interiors, in which he specialised. Johann Friedrich Morgenstern (1777-1819) was to follow in his father's footsteps both as an artist and as a restorer, and was also to become an appraiser and compiler of auction catalogues. His work includes a number of landscapes from the surroundings of Frankfurt, but above all vedute and views of buildings in his father's city. His grandson Carl Morgenstern (1811-1893), who was also born in Frankfurt, realised the dream of many German painters and visited Italy from 1834 to 1837 to study the art of the ancients. He established himself in Frankfurt as a landcape painter, but was hardly active as restorer.

From "Münzwardein" Friedrich Ernst Roessler to the Degussa Collection

Under the direction of Friedrich Ernst Roessler (1813-1883), the new Frankfurt Mint was opened in 1840. The resulting DEGUSSA subsequently built up a complete German coin collection. The collection came into permanent loan to the HMF in 2003 and can be seen in the Frankfurt Collector's Museum.

After a minting treaty was signed by six southern German states in 1837, Frankfurt also planned to mint new money. A new mint building had to be built. This was done under the supervision of Friedrich Ernst Roessler, son of the Grand Ducal Hessian Mint Councillor Hector Roessler. The minting of new guilders and kreuzers began in 1840. After the Vienna Mint Treaty of 1857, "Vereinstaler" coins were also minted in Frankfurt.

In addition to the municipal mint, Roessler operated a privately run refinery. The minting tools of the Frankfurt Mint have been preserved in parts. Many of the mint dies and patrices, minting rings and weight sets still exist.

With the founding of the German Empire in 1871, a new currency was introduced, the mark at 100 pfennigs. The task of the refinery was to melt down old coins and produce ingots and blanks for the minting of new coins. This expansion of the business gave rise to what was later called DEGUSSA as a joint-stock company in 1873. All Frankfurt coins and the gold and silver coins of the German Empire consisted of material that had passed through DEGUSSA's smelter. The raw metal was first cast into ingots and processed into Schrötlings – the unminted coin plates. The final minting took place in Frankfurt (until 1879) and other mints of the German Empire.

Das Gemälde zeigt einen jungen Mann, der sich auf einem Notizbuch abstützt und einen Stift in der Hand hält. Rechts im Hintergrund ist eine Büste zu sehen.
Joseph Chabord Selbstbildnis mit der Büste des Fürstprimas Dalberg 1810 CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF; Foto: Horst Ziegenfusz
Eine Besucherin steht vor dem Annenaltar in der Sammlung Dalberg
Annenalter in der Ausstellung Sammler und Stifter CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF, Foto: Petra Welzel
Das Gemälde zeigt einen jungen Mann, der sich auf einem Notizbuch abstützt und einen Stift in der Hand hält. Rechts im Hintergrund ist eine Büste zu sehen. Eine Besucherin steht vor dem Annenaltar in der Sammlung Dalberg

The foundation of the Frankfurt Museum

The 15th and 16th century panel paintings from Frankfurt churches purchased by the Prince-Primate of the Confederation of the Rhine, Carl Theodor von Dalberg, became the foundation stock of the museum society founded by citizens in 1808.

Dalberg did not leave it at that, however, but also donated numerous works by contemporary Frankfurt artists such as Christian Georg Schütz the Younger, Anton Radl, Johann Philipp Ulbricht or Ursula Magdalena Reinheimer. The result was an impressive arc of tension spanning for centuries of painting. Dalberg's reforms in the Grand Duchy of Frankfurt were also aimed at promoting the fine arts. On the initiative of Legation Councillor Nikolaus Vogt and various Frankfurt artists, the "Frankfurt Museum" was founded in 1808, to which Dalberg donated not only the paintings but also numerous works by contemporary Frankfurt artists that he had acquired or commissioned. The events of the newly founded museum aimed at a comprehensive education of the citizens, such as concerts, lectures and art presentations. 


The Annen Altar

An outstanding piece of the Dalberg Collection is the Annen Altar, which can be seen in its entirety for the first time in over 200 years. In addition, there are other works that have not been exhibited for a long time, such as the large-format "Last Judgement" from the 1630s attributed to Philipp Uffenbach, Joseph Nikolaus Peroux's "Death of King Günther von Schwarzburg and his Reconciliation with his Opponent Carl IV" from 1808, Christian Georg Schütz the Younger's "View of Brünhildenstein on the Feldberg" from 1810 or Joseph Chabord's "Self-Portrait with the Bust of the Grand Duke of Frankfurt, Carl Dalberg" from 1810.

Das Foto zeigt Keramik und Möbelstücke aus der Sammlung Heyman
Einblick in die Sammlung Heyman, CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF, Foto: Horst Ziegenfusz
Das Foto zeigt mehrere Besucher in roten Sesseln, die die Sammlung betrachten
Besucher in der Sammlung Heyman in Multimediasesseln, CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF, Foto: Stefanie Kösling
Das Foto zeigt Keramik und Möbelstücke aus der Sammlung Heyman Das Foto zeigt mehrere Besucher in roten Sesseln, die die Sammlung betrachten

The residence of Frankfurt banker Julius Heyman (1863-1925)

Julius Heyman was a wealthy banker and collector. He amassed an extensive collection of art, furniture, paintings, and sculptures in his private home. In it were rooms in the Gothic, Rhenish Renaissance and Louis XVI styles. The transfer to the city took place in 1925, under the condition that Julius Heyman's home be left unchanged and made accessible to the public as a museum.

Against the wishes of this Jewish citizen, the city closed the museum in 1938, divided the collection among the city museums and offered it for sale in the art trade. The presentation of the objects traced back to Heyman shows a "depot arrangement" in the Collector's museum
– the arrangement intended by the collector can no longer be reconstructed due to the wanton dispersion of the objects.

The diversity and quality of the collection can still be seen today from the remaining collection holdings. Thus, a large collection of paintings, among others by the Darmstadt court painter Johann Conrad Seekatz, from the middle of the 18th century, can be seen alongside precious faiences, glass vessels and clocks from the 17th and 18th centuries. Julius Heyman (1863-1925) is an important collector for the HMF whose collection, now only partially peserved, is on permanent display in the Collector's Museum. The donation of the collection by Heyman to the museum in 1925 is thematised there, as is the division and sale of the collection during the Nazi era by the city of Frankfurt.

A patron par excellence

Eduard Rüppell (1794-1884) undertook many expeditions. He made numerous discoveries on the African continent and in the Near East. He was an avid collector and brought animals, rock samples and coins to Frankfurt.

The son of a wealthy banker, he studied in France, Switzerland, England and Italy. Through his acquaintance with the Swiss polymath Ludwig Burckhardt, who was enthusiastic about travel, the desire to become an explorer grew in him at an early age. After a trip to Egypt in 1817, he undertook three further journeys at his own expense. Rüppell is credited with significant discoveries in Abyssinia, on the Sinai Peninsula and in areas of the Red Sea as well as in present-day Sudan. 

Rüppell never collected for himself, but for Frankfurt and science. He donated the collections of material from his travels to the institutes of his home town. 79 animals and plant species are named after him. The collections of the explorer Eduard Rüppell form the basis of the Senckenberg Natural History Society in Frankfurt. Through the city library, he laid the foundation for the museum collections of the Historisches Museum, the Liebighaus and the Weltkulturen Museum. The expeditions at the beginning of the 19th century also had their dark side, because the geographical, technical and social knowledge later served as the basis for the colonisation of these areas. Last but not least, Rüppell, together with two other Frankfurt friends, was the donor of a first Goethe monument.

Das Foto zeigt eine Doppelkürbisvase mit blauer Bemalung
Doppelkürbisvase CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF, Foto: Uwe Dettmar
Das Gemälde zeigt eine Frankfurter Fayencevase auf orientalischem Teppich neben Papagei
Cornelis de Man Stillleben mit Frankfurter Fayencevase CC-BY-SA 4.0: HMF, Foto: Horst Ziegenfusz
Das Foto zeigt eine Doppelkürbisvase mit blauer Bemalung Das Gemälde zeigt eine Frankfurter Fayencevase auf orientalischem Teppich neben Papagei

The Collection of the Factory Owner Wilhelm Kratz (c. 1873-1945)

Wilhelm Kratz specialised in 17th and 18th century faience from Frankfurt. The passionate collector had amassed them over decades with great connoisseurship.

He was not alone in this passion: arount 1910, a dense "scene" of faience connoisseurs and interested parties developed in the city. The second large collection of faience from the Frankfurt Faience Manufactory from 1666 to 1772 had been that of the HMF until 1944. Unfortunately, most of it was ultimately better than that of the major Frankfurt museums. After the HMF collection had been destroyed in the war, the city acquired the most comprehensive collection of high-quality faiences, mainly of Frankurt and Hanau provenance, with 800 objects in 1952. Johanne Kratz, widow of the factory owner Wilhelm Kratz from Kronberg, who died in 1945, sold them to the city. The passionate collector had collected this extraordinary material with great expertise over decades.

here for the exhibitions in ther Porcellain Museum at Kronberger Haus, and watch a trailer on the Kratz Collection on YouTube.