One happy conseqence of Frankfurt's affluence is its excellent collection of museums. The Museumsufer with its 13 museums is one of Germany's most impressive museum complexes, with its undisputed highlight being the outstanding Städel art museum.
Deutsches Filmmuseum (German Film Museum)
Tel: 069 21 23 88 30
Open: Tues, Thur, Fri, Sun 10am - 5pm, Wed 10am - 8pm, Sat 2pm - 8pm
Opened in 1984, the Deutsches Filmmuseum is one of the most important cinematic institutions in the country. Its film archive contains approximately 7,000 items, with the focus on classic avantgarde film, artistic animation and new German film, as well as over 16,000 film posters and, 2000 scripts. Films from the archive are shown in the 'Kommunale Kino' (communal cinema), which was founded by Hilmar Hoffmann in 1971. The permanent exhibition tells the history of film-making, while the regular temporary exhibitions are always fascinating.
Tel: 069 21 23 55 99
Surprisingly interesting museum with an endearingly random mixture of exhibits. Highlights include the model of 1945 Frankfurt with its destruction deliberately exaggerated for political purposes (the makers had their own agenda for Frankfurt's re-construction), the coin collection which documents German history through its changing currencies (the inter-war ceramic Ersatz coins are fascinating) and the cellar excavations.
Kurt Schumacher-Straße 10
Tel: 069 29 77 419
Part of the Jewish Museum, the Judengasse contains the excavated foundations of five houses from the Judengasse, the former Frankfurt Jewish ghetto, demolished with an appalling lack of tact by the local government; the foundations (with their two well-preserved mikve ritual baths) were saved from the destruction as a compromise with local protestors. The museum also contains exhibits detailing the history of the Judengasse, information about Jewish life, and many fascinating artifacts.
Jüdisches Museum (Jewish museum)
Untermainkai 14 - 15
Tel: 21 23 50 00
Open: Tues, Thurs-Sun 10am - 5pm, Wed 10am - 8pm
This museum documents the history of the Jewish community in Frankfurt, including a section devoted to the history of the city's famous Rothschild family. The exhibits are as horrifying and sobering as you would expect; check out for example the terrifyingly banal invitation to a nineteenth century anti-Semitic Volksfest, or the Nazi-era cardboard sheet with yellow stars of David to cut out. The post-WW2 section includes fascinating original documentation illuminating life in the displaced persons camps and the Zionist movement.
Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Museum for Applied Art)
Tel: 069 21 23 85 30
Open: Tues, Thurs-Sun 10am - 5pm, Wed 10am - 9pm
Located in an elegant building designed by the New York architect Richard Meier, the Museum of Applied Art is (literally) a treasure trove. Its four floors display designed objects from various countries and historical periods; the top floor with its amazing collection of Asian and Islamic artifacts is particularly interesting. Fans of the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges will be pleased to find a section devoted entirely to his imaginary encyclopaedia of Tlön.
Museum für Kommunikation (Museum of Communication)
Tel: 606 00
Open: Tues-Fri 9am - 5pm, Sat, Sun 11am - 7pm
Slightly eccentric museum sponsored by Deutsche Post (hence the free entrance) which focuses on telecommunications. The outdated technology on display is fascinating and often raises a smile, as today's computers and mobile phones will undoubtedly do in the future. There's a huge activity area for kids, where they can build telephones (presumably out of toilet rolls and double-sided sticky tape), but make sure you lead your charges swiftly past the sheep made of telephone cables with telephones for heads, if you don't want them to have telecommunication-themed nightmares.
Museum für Moderne Kunst (Museum of Modern Art)
Domstraße 10, Frankfurt-Altstadt
Tel.: (069) 212-30447
Open: Tues, Thurs-Sun 10am - 5pm, Wed 10am - 8pm
Worth visiting for its architecture alone, the MMK's vertigionous spaces, elevated walkways and mysterious stairs create something of a three-dimensional labyrinth. Known as the 'cake slice' by locals due to its triangular shape, the museum focuses on challenging contemporary art, with a mixture of permanent and temporary exhibitions. The museum's clearly generous budget is evident in the large reading room, with its enormous selection of magazines and books, and free pencils. (At least, I think they were free.)
Tel: 069 29 98 820
Open: Tues, Fri-Sun 10am - 7pm, Wed, Thurs 10am - 10pm
The Schirn is Frankfurt's premier space for temporary exhibitions. Since it was opened in 1986, more than 100 exhibitions have taken place, including retrospectives of such major artists as Kandinsky, Chagall, and Giacometti, plus exhibitions on such diverse topics as the history of photography and shopping.
Tel: 069 60 50 980
Open: Tues, Fri-Sun 10am - 8pm, Wed, Thurs 10am - 10pm
Frankfurt's most prestigious museum features an impressive collection of art from the 14th century up until the present day. Ironically its most famous work is technically one of the less-accomplished--Tischbein's portrait of Goethe, which decorates a thousand beer bottles (look out for the famous two left feet). Almost every 20th century artist you can think of is represented here, with a particular focus on German Expressionists like Max Beckmann. The attached Holbein's restaurant is also well worth a visit (particularly if you're not paying--you could buy a minor contemporary artwork for the price of dinner).
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