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What We Saw at the Kurpfälzisches Museum in Heidelberg

Centrally located in the middle of the pedestrian zone, the Kurpfälzisches Museum der Stadt Heidelberg, Electoral Palatinate Museum, is located inside the Palais Morass, a Baroque palace building. The history of the museum dates back to the initiative of the French emigre, Count Charles de Graimberg, who from 1810 began to devote himself to preserve the history of the Heidelberg Palace and the Palatine Princely House. His collection of coins, pictures and altars as well as sculptures (over 3,500) are the foundation of the Kurpfalz Museum.

The art collection of Charles de Graimberg was purchased from the city in 1879 and the museum was opened in 1908. After adding a new building in 1991 adjacent to the palace building, the collection grew immensely, and makes the museum experience itself a wild adventure of different styles of rooms, floors, and exhibits. It feels like the inside is so much bigger than the outside lets on. Besides collections of paintings from the 15th to the 20th century, you can also find sculptures, porcelain, Heidelberg city history, and costumes from a bygone era. Denise fell in love with Karl Weysser’s painting ‘Alte Poststation in Heidelberg mit Blick in die Seminarstrasse,’ and finding a postcard with the artwork on it in the gift shop made her very happy.

Besides art, there are also numerous archaeological finds in the museum, mainly through the remains of the Roman Neckar Bridge, which was discovered in 1877. Further archaeological excavations in Heidelberg and the surrounding palatine area after WWII, made the collection grow considerably.

History, art, porcelains, historical costumes, archaeology, period interiors, the Kurpfälzisches Museum der Stadt Heidelberg has something for everyone, and we enjoyed it very much! For more information regarding visiting hours and the history of the museum, visit their official site Kurpfälzisches Museum.


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Visiting the Student Prison and Old Auditorium of Heidelberg University

The unusual and beautiful aspects of Heidelberg University, Germany. Notes from our visit to the Student Prison and Old Auditorium, with photos.

Studentenkarzer, Student Prison
On the back of Heidelberg’s Old University building lies the Studentenkarzer, which was a student prison. From 1778 to 1914, students were jailed in this building, being punished for trivial offenses such as nightly disturbances or public intoxication. At that time, the university still had its own jurisdiction so that an official could impose punitive punishment. The arrest lasted anywhere between three days to four weeks, depending on the offense.

The unusual and beautiful aspects of Heidelberg University, Germany. Notes from our visit to the Student Prison and Old Auditorium, with photos.

As you head up the worn and uneven stairs, you will see graffiti and art everywhere: on walls, above the doors, and even on the ceiling. Upstairs are five prison cells, big enough for two or three students to share a cell. During the first two days of confinement, students were only provided with bread and water. Starting day three, visitors could bring them food and even beer. Students were not allowed to leave the building during their sentence, but they were permitted to attend lectures for the university through a connecting door from the prison. In the end, the time spent in the Karzer was a lot more comforting than it sounds, since the cells were spacious, and had desks and regular beds in them.

The unusual and beautiful aspects of Heidelberg University, Germany. Notes from our visit to the Student Prison and Old Auditorium, with photos.

Many students spent their time immortalizing themselves on the walls with their faces, visions and the signs of their respective student connections. These original fixtures and graffiti can still be seen today. Even Mark Twain visited the Studentenkarzer and mentions it in his book, A Tramp Abroad; “The walls were thickly covered with pictures and portraits (in profile), some done with ink, some with soot, some with a pencil, and some with red, blue, and green chalks; and whenever an inch or two of space had remained between the pictures, the captives had written plaintive verses, or names and dates. I do not think I was ever in a more elaborately frescoed apartment.”

Mark Twain visited the Studentenkarzer and mentions it in his book, A Tramp Abroad; “The walls were thickly covered with pictures and portraits (in profile), some done with ink, some with soot, some with a pencil, and some with red, blue, and green chalks; and whenever an inch or two of space had remained between the pictures, the captives had written plaintive verses, or names and dates. I do not think I was ever in a more elaborately frescoed apartment.”

If you visit the student prison, buy a combined ticket, which will not only include admission to the student prison, but also to the University Museum and the Alte Aula, Old Auditorium. The museum will be of limited interest if you can't read German, but be sure not to miss the Alte Aula inside the museum. It is on the back side of the Studentenkarzer. Step out onto the cobblestone street and walk around the building to enter the museum.

The Alte Aula was designed for the 500th anniversary of the university in the year 1886. The architect Josef Durm created the neo-Renaissance style room, that was originally built in a baroque style. Today, this magnificent room is mainly used for academic ceremonies such as the opening lectures of newly appointed professors or graduate celebrations. The Alte Aula is also a venue for public concerts and lectures to give the venerable ambience of this auditorium a special glow.

Alte Aula, Old Auditorium
After entering the museum, take the staircase one floor up and turn left into the hallway. On the right side of the hallway you can enter the Alte Aula. The interior of the auditorium - as it is still visible today - was designed for the 500th anniversary of the university in the year 1886. The architect Josef Durm created the neo-Renaissance style room, that was originally built in a baroque style. Today, this magnificent room is mainly used for academic ceremonies such as the opening lectures of newly appointed professors or graduate celebrations. The Alte Aula is also a venue for public concerts and lectures to give the venerable ambience of this auditorium a special glow.

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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

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