Experience Germany Like a Local

© 2015-2017 Polar Bear Studio LLC, All images unless otherwise noted, text, and website design, all rights reserved. Email Us

Where to Find Modern Art in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Modern art lovers rejoice! You’re going to love Frankfurt am Main, Germany! You have great choices for seeing modern and contemporary art and I have three recommendations to help you start planning your modern art escapades in Frankfurt.

Museum für Moderne Kunst designed by Hans Hollein | Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Museum fuer Moderne Kunst (MMK for short)
The design of this building reminds me of a cat meme, ‘If I fits, I sits’. In 1983, Hans Hollein’s slice of cake-looking design won first prize for the architecture competition for Frankfurt’s newest museum. Hollein fully utilized the space and leaves the visitor guessing how the inside of the museum will work. There are different routes and levels, all the while you can peek over at other spaces. The exhibit spaces are very photogenic. No surprise, there was a family and a professional photographer using the staircase as a backdrop for their family photos. It’s that cool inside.

The Museum fuer Moderne Kunst permanent collection is from the 1960s until present day, and includes all mediums including photography. They have ongoing efforts to digitze their collection, and you can view their hard work here:

Important to Know Before You Go
The entire permanent collection is not on view all the time, due to space constraints. If you’re there for one artist only or one piece only, its best to call or email ahead of time to find out if its on the floor. We looked from top to bottom for the 57 Penguin piece, only to find out after fruitless searching that it wasn’t currently out.

Schirn Kunsthalle | Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Schirn Kunsthalle
The modern looking Schirn Kunsthalle building is hiding down a narrow alleyway off the Roemerberg. The entry foyer is minimalistic and stark, with LED directional signage lighting. There’s no permanent collection, the museum is completely dependent on the temporary exhibits they run. When temporary exhibits are your livelihood, it's imperative to be newsworthy and unique. They’re very progressive and creative with their topics. While we were there, they had a Vienna Woodcut Exhibition, the first of its kind running. The Schirn smartly spent part of the exhibit space showing the original blocks and explaining the process of Woodcutting alongside the pieces.

I’m personally agonizing that the exhibit Splendor and Misery in the Weimar Republic starts the month after our trip. Its running from October 27-February 25, 2018. If you go, please tell me all about it! I’m already contemplating how I can get my hands on an exhibition catalog.

Important To Know Before You Go
The museum staff is super strict about bags and coats going into the exhibition rooms. There’s an airport-style bag size tester for you to check and see if your belongings are too big, and a security guard in place to enforce it. The signage is bilingual, German and English.

Staedel Museum
Can I write an art museum post about Frankfurt, and NOT include the Staedel Museum? No way! The Staedel Museum also the entire lower floor dedicated to modern art. If you missed my article about the Staedel, it was the 13th post I ever wrote for this blog so I don’t blame you, I’ll fill you in about what you need to know about the Staedel here.

How the Staedel Museum in Frankfurt Stole My Heart | Photo Copyright Städel Museum

Photo Copyright Städel Museum

Follow Along
If you enjoyed this article, or these topics sound interesting to you, you'll love our weekly newsletter. You'll receive the newest posts each week and exclusive access to free planning resources like ‘Packing List & Tips for 2 Weeks in Germany’ and ‘Everything You Need to Rent a Car in Germany’.

Thank you for reading!





A Sculpture Museum That Will Change Your Mind About Sculpture

A Sculpture Museum That Will Change Your Mind About Sculpture | Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

When visiting the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, you feel as if you’re visiting a noble German uncle that you’ve heard so much about. Along the river Main in Frankfurt, Germany, the museums are lined up neatly in a row. Most were obviously homes at one time. Through an iron gate, you walk along what was once a driveway towards a ‘villa’, what to me seems like a mansion, but ok. In such a big city as Frankfurt, there is a surprising expanse of green grass and landscaping in front. There are outdoor sculptures nestled amongst the trees and shady areas of the yard, distracting the visitor from the front door.

Gründerzeit Architecture
The museum building is a work of art as well. The villa was designed by Munich architect Leonhard Romeis between 1892 and 1896 for the textile manufacturer Heinrich Baron von Liebieg (where Liebieghaus gets its name). The architecture style is called Gründerzeit, which translates to Founder’s Period. During that time, urban housing in Austria and Germany was booming, and entire streets of town homes were being built four to six stories high. Historic periods such as Classical, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque were all being emulated and blended together as part of the larger Historicism movement of the era. In the Liebieghaus in particular, the architect Romeis blended South Tyrolean and the Bamberg Renaissance, and various other styles. What better stage to curate a sculpture museum that covers 5,000 years of history, from Ancient Egypt to Neoclassical than in a villa that was lovingly designed to honor those periods. It's a happy synergy.

Interior of the Liebieghaus museum, a villa designed by Munich architect Leonhard Romeis between 1892 and 1896 for the textile manufacturer Heinrich Baron von Liebieg.

Don’t Repeat My Mistake
I tend to overlook sculptures when I’m in an art museum, so I dismissed visiting the Liebieghaus, an art museum dedicated solely to sculpture, in Frankfurt am Main for years. Over time though, repeatedly the Liebieghaus would come to my attention, either in rave reviews of guide books or from Frankfurt natives. All reports declared that it was exemplary and not to be missed. Eventually, my curiosity got the better of me. I was admittedly starting to feel guilty after I’ve visited neighboring Staedel Museum five-six times in the interim! You can read How the Staedel Museum Stole My Heart here if you're curious.

Now, I’m going to be another voice singing the praises of this museum.

Maria Immaculata by Matthias Steinl at the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Why? Maybe it's because with only sculptures on display it's easier to absorb them without being distracted by paintings on the wall. Perhaps the dramatic wall colors and high contrast lighting really brings the sculptures to life? In an art museum with both paintings and sculptures it's hard to light both mediums dynamically.

The Adoring Angel by Franz Ignaz Günther at the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Regardless, I wasn’t bored, and neither was Sebastian. The museum is the right size, cozy yet grandiose, and you can see a majority of the collection in one visit. The signage is predominately bilingual, German and English, which helps so much. If there’s a special exhibition currently running, be sure to check out the exhibit’s Digitorial online to learn more about what you’ll see. For example, this is what is currently running, Between Definite and Dubious.

Gods in Color
The Liebieghaus collection is the proud parent to a traveling exhibit that has been touring museums all over the world for fifteen years. It dispels the commonly-held belief that classical sculpture from Ancient Greece and Rome have always been white marble. Science and extremely lucky archaeological discoveries have been able to prove otherwise, and the Liebieghaus has gone to such lengths as to present actual-size reproductions in the ‘original color format’ next to the surviving, authentic pieces as part of the museum's permanent collection.. Wow are they bright! It's shocking to see! Here’s the museum’s Digitorial about the exhibit Gods in Color.

Neoclassical Ariadne on the Panther
I’m a cat person. Undeniably my jaw dropped when I saw Ariadne on the Panther. Arguably the most famous and celebrated sculpture in Frankfurt is the Neoclassicist Johann Heinrich Dannecker’s Ariadne on the Panther, a visual play of beauty and mankind conquering wild nature. The Liebieghaus shared the history and restoration of this beloved piece on their blog, The Ariadne File.

Johann Heinrich Dannecker's Ariadne on the Panther in the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Ancient Egypt
I was most excited to see the collection from ancient Egypt, and it lived up to my anticipation. I loved how the museum positioned the mummy lids so that you can see inside the lids as well as the exterior.

Egyptian Antiquities Collection at the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

I didn’t expect to see paintings on wood panels from that time period. It's a marvel that such fragile materials survive for so long! During Greek and Roman rule in Egypt, mummy burial customs adapted the ancient Greek painting style into an additional element, a painted portrait on wood panel of the deceased enclosed with the body.

Wood Panel Mummy Portrait at the Liebieghaus Skulpturensammlung, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

One More Thing
You have to see the conservation and restoration workshop video posted by the museum, it's incredible, and has English subtitles!


Have You Been To the Liebieghaus? Have you ever put off a museum only to regret not seeing it sooner when the time came? Let us know in the comments.

Follow Along
If you enjoyed this article, or these topics sound interesting to you, you'll love our weekly newsletter. You'll receive the newest posts each week and exclusive access to free planning resources like ‘Packing List & Tips for 2 Weeks in Germany’ and ‘Everything You Need to Rent a Car in Germany’.

Thank you for reading!



Comments

Deciphering the Roemer in Frankfurt am Main

Deciphering the Roemer in Frankfurt am Main

Before the stadium-sized exhibition halls Frankfurt am Main, Germany has today, there was the Römer, or Roemer for the umlaut-allergic. Roemer refers specifically to the City Hall complex that grew from a labyrinth of fancy merchant homes that were bought in 1405 by the city and retro-fitted for the city council’s needs. It was here that the first trade fairs were held, in the myriad of halls, nearby square, and neighboring streets, until the trade fairs couldn’t fit anymore. The Roemer resides in the center of the city on the Roemerberg, a square made out of Fachwerkhäusern, half-timbered houses.

The Frankfurt eagle symbol is used frequently on the facade of the Roemer in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Why the Roemer? Like most good nicknames, no one is sure why the Roemer is called the Roemer. Some allege Italian visitors for the trade fairs stayed there and thus named it the German word for Romans, Roemer, or perhaps because of the building's ties to the Holy Roman Empire and its election of Kings. After a King was elected, the coronation dinner was held in the Roemer in the Kaisersaal, or Emperor Hall. The Roemer hosted the Kings of the Holy Roman Empire from 1562 to 1792.

Typical for neo-gothic, or gothic revival architecture, all structural elements are decorated. Four Kings, such as Friedrich I, are on the Roemer facade in Frankfurt.

Comparing Germany’s Town Halls
Frankfurt am Main’s city hall complex is unlike any I have seen in Germany, and certainly completely different from earlier posts about the Rathaus in Bremen and the Neues Rathaus in Munich. That being said, it is built in the same architecture style as the Neues Rathaus in Munich, Gothic Revival. Both the Roemer and the Neues Rathaus in Munich were built or remodeled at a time when Germany was seeking to revisit the glory days of the time period belonging to Bremen’s Rathaus. If you missed those posts, and you like this one, I encourage you to check them out: Architecture Style Guide to the Neues Rathaus in Munich, and The Epic German City Hall All the Other City Halls Wish To Be.

Typical for Gothic Revival, on the Roemer facade in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, you’ll see pointed arches, decorative patterns, and embellished structural elements.

Symbolism on the Roemer
Typical for Gothic Revival, you’ll see pointed arches, decorative patterns, and embellished structural elements. Without a tour guide, the symbolism on the Roemer’s facade is missed by many visitors.

Symbolism Guide for the Roemer | Typical for Gothic Revival, on the Roemer facade in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, you’ll see pointed arches, decorative patterns, and embellished structural elements.

Top to Bottom, the Frankfurt am Main Roemer Iconography, Highlights and Descriptions

• Lantern cupola on top has not been refurbished after the bombings of World War II, it is as it was originally built in the 1700s.
• Clock built by Frankfurt clock-maker Hans Hochgesang in 1452-1454. The time can be read from inside the Kaisersaal as well.
• Two Eagle Sculpture reliefs, the single Eagle on the left is for Frankfurt, the double-headed Eagle on the right is for Germany.
• Four Holy Roman Emperors, all who had a significant impact on the city of Frankfurt am Main. From left to right, Frederick I, the first king elected in Frankfurt in 1152, Ludwig the Bavarian who extended the city’s trade rights in 1331, Charles IV for decreeing the Golden Bull of 1356, and Maximilian II, the first ruler crowned in the Frankfurt Cathedral in 1562.
• Below the balcony are coat of arms of various families of Frankfurt.
• Wall relief commemorates the 1900 remodel, “House of the Romans, bought and rebuilt by the city of Frankfurt am Main in 1405, and the town hall of the Reichstag and Imperial elections 1886 to 1900 by Max Meckel, newly manufactured.”
Wall relief commemorates the 1900 remodel, “House of the Romans, bought and rebuilt by the city of Frankfurt am Main in 1405, and the town hall of Reichstag and Imperial elections 1886 to 1900 by Max Meckel, newly manufactured.”

On the neighboring building front to the left of the Roemer, the Alt-Limpurg house, be sure to see the ‘Frankfurtia’, Statue, or as Germans know her, Francofurtia, the female embodiment, protector of the city of Frankfurt. She's holding the sword of Charlemagne in her right hand and the Pfarrturm, church tower in her left.

On the neighboring building front to the left of the Roemer, the Alt-Limburg house, be sure to see the ‘Frankfurtia’, Statue, or as Germans know her, Francofurtia, the female embodiment, protector of the city of Frankfurt. She's holding the sword of Charlemagne in her right hand and the Pfarrturm, church tower in her left.

Finally, on the far right side of the Roemer facade, the Frauenstein and Salzhaus, look for the three surviving wall reliefs that were salvaged from the World War II bombings. They serve as a reminder for all of what was lost. Currently, there is a Frankfurt Tourist Information Office located in this part of the Roemer.

Finally, on the far right side of the Roemer facade, the Frauenstein and Salzhaus, look for the three surviving wall reliefs that were salvaged from the World War II bombings. They serve as a reminder for all of what was lost. Currently, there is a Frankfurt Tourist Information Office located in this part of the Roemer.

Follow Along
If you enjoyed this article, or these topics sound interesting to you, you'll love our weekly newsletter. You'll receive the newest posts each week and exclusive access to free planning resources like ‘Packing List & Tips for 2 Weeks in Germany’ and ‘Everything You Need to Rent a Car in Germany’.

Thank you for reading!



Comments

A Self-Guided Walk Through Frankfurt

Fourteen of the fifteen tallest buildings in Germany are in Frankfurt, which is nicknamed Mainhatten for this reason.

Skyscrapers characterize the cityscape of Frankfurt am Main, my “other” home away from Florida. Fourteen of the fifteen tallest buildings in Germany are in Frankfurt, which is nicknamed "Mainhattan" for this reason. Despite a great subway system to get around, I recommend exploring Frankfurt on foot. This way, you can take in all the details of the exciting architecture in the heart of Frankfurt, and at the same time walk off that good German food or beer.

What You Need to Know About Visiting Main Tower in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

1. Main Tower (Neue Mainzer Str. 52-58)
Let’s start with a good view of the city first by taking the elevator to the top of the Main Tower. There are two ways to enjoy the 360 degree views of Frankfurt's skyline: you can either take the elevator up, for 7.50 Euros, to the observation deck OR enjoy a cocktail and/or meal at the fine dining Main Tower Restaurant & Lounge, located on the 53rd floor of the tower. If you dine at the restaurant, the cost of the elevator ride will be credited against your bill, so hold onto your receipt, or if you make a reservation the elevator operator will not charge you for the ride. To read more about the Main Tower, check out our earlier post, “What You Need to Know About Visiting Main Tower in Frankfurt.”

2. Hauptwache (An der Hauptwache 15)
Within a ten minute walk you will reach the Hauptwache, a 17th-century guard-house. It housed the municipal police and also contained a prison back in the day. Particularly impressive is the architectural contrast of the 300-year-old building with the skyscraper backdrop of the banking district. When Prussia annexed the city in 1866, Frankfurt also lost its military significance, and with it the city armed forces. The Hauptwache was turned into a cafe in 1905, which has remained there ever since. Prices are more expensive than other cafes in Frankfurt, but it is a great spot for people watching.

3. Paulskirche/St. Paul's Church (Paulsplatz 11)
Keep walking south until you see the Paulskirche, an elliptical building made out of sandstone. This church is very important for the history of democracy in Germany. During the German Revolution in 1848, it was the meeting place of the first all-German parliament since Paulskirche was the largest and most modern building in Frankfurt. In March 1944 the Paulskirche burned completely after a bomb attack and was the first historical building of Frankfurt to be rebuilt after the war. You can see pictures and different flags used for Germany inside, there is no entrance fee. Read more about it in our earlier post, “The Most German of German Churches.”

Standesamt Mitte (Bethmannstrasse 3) Frankfurt am Main, Germany civil registry office, named after the Bridge of Sighs in Venice

4. Standesamt Mitte (Bethmannstraße 3)
Stepping out of the Paulskirche, you will see the Standesamt Mitte (Frankfurt civil registry office) building across the street. This is where the citizens of Frankfurt come for birth certificates, naturalization, name changes and much more. Definitely worth a quick picture, especially with the covered bridge across the street called Seufzerbrücke. This bridge is nicknamed the Bridge of Sighs, and was built in 1898, based on the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy.

Roemer of Frankfurt am Main, Germany

5. Römer/Römerberg (Römerberg 27)
Cross the street and keep left to get to the Römerberg including the Römer building. On the corner is the Frankfurt Tourist Information, in case you have a specific question or need a map. When you walk into the market square, take a minute and look around at all the beautiful buildings. One of the most impressive ones is the Römer building with its characteristic triple facade, which was built in the 15th century. This landmark is the city hall of Frankfurt and the seat of the city council and mayor. This is where couples get married, too and you might run into one of them while you are there.

Alte Nikolaikirche, or Old St. Nicholas Church, to the left of the Roemer, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

6. Alte Nikolaikirche (Römerberg 11)
Looking at the Römer, to your left is the Alte Nikolaikirche (Old St Nicholas Church) built in the 12th century. Because of its central location, this Lutheran church is open all day for visitors and there are often bilingual worship services. Check their posting board for the current hours.

Eiserner Steg, crossing the river Main, first erected in 1868 and rebuilt after World War II.

7. Eiserner Steg
Keep walking past the Alte Nikolaikirche and you will get to the banks of river Main, a great place to rest and watch the boats and kayaks go by. Right in front of you is a bridge called Eiserner Steg (Iron footbridge), first erected in 1868 and rebuilt after WWII. Walk to the middle of the bridge and enjoy the best scenic view of the Frankfurt skyscrapers. The perfect time for a selfie without having to watch out for passing cars.

8. Goethe-Haus (Großer Hirschgraben 23-25)
For the last 2 stops we head back to the inner city, right to the birthplace of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the Goethe-Haus. This building was the family residence of the Goethe family until 1795. Goethe's study on the second floor is as it once was when he wrote “The Sorrows of Young Werther” and “Götz von Berlichingen” in this room. We loved our visit so much, we even wrote a cheat sheet for your visit, “The Ultimate Cheat Sheet to the Goethe House in Frankfurt.”

And do not miss the Goethe museum next door, included in your Goethe House ticket, where you can discover a comprehensive collection of paintings, graphics and busts from Goethe’s lifetime with artists such as Johann Heinrich Füssli, Caspar David Friedrich, and local Frankfurt painters. To know more, review our earlier article, “What You Must See at the Frankfurt Goethe Museum."

9. Alte Oper (Opernplatz 1)
The last stop on the walking tour will be the original opera house Alte Oper, close to the Main Tower where we started our tour. The beautiful building was built in the Neo-Renaissance style and opened its door in 1880 for just over 2,000 people per showing. The opera house was the venue for numerous premieres, for example Carl Orff's “Carmina Burana” in 1937 and to this day shows concerts and art performances. If you are interested in any upcoming concerts, you can get tickets at the ticket office in the front or one hour before any concert at the box office.


Special thanks to Lifestyle and Wedding Photographer Irene Fiedler, who captured all of the photos in this post. These images were part of a larger photo shoot we collaborated with Irene on, which you can read more about here.

Follow Along
If you enjoyed this article, or these topics sound interesting to you, you'll love our weekly newsletter. You'll receive the newest posts each week and exclusive access to free planning resources like ‘Packing List & Tips for 2 Weeks in Germany’ and ‘Everything You Need to Rent a Car in Germany.

Thank you for reading!


Self-guided walk through Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Comments

Show more posts about traveling in Germany

Thank you For Reading! Denise & Sebastian | Photo by Irene Fiedler