The Jewish Museum in Frankfurt am Main is the first independent museum in the Federal Republic of Germany to be set up with the explicit task of making it possible for people to experience Jewish cultures both past and present. It collects, preserves and studies cultural artefacts and testimonia related to the Jewish history of Frankfurt. It promotes a general understanding of Jewish history and culture and strengthens the social climate of tolerance and liberalism in the city of Frankfurt through its internationally acclaimed exhibitions, its super-regional educational work and its digital offers.
The Society of Friends and Patrons of the Jewish Museum sees it as its task to support the museum in all aspects of its work. One focal point of our involvement is to promote a renewal process embracing the expansion of the collection, the implementation of a digital strategy and the organization of a timely exhibition and educational programme.
Against this backdrop, the Society of Friends and Patrons of the Museum has already enabled the following:
Inauguration of the Jakob Nussbaum Archive
Thanks to citizens’ involvement and the support of the Society of Friends and Patrons, the Jewish Museum was able to acquire some important paintings by the artist and also large parts of his estate from a private collector. The Jakob Nussbaum estate consists of letters, documents and photographs, about 200 lead pencil and ink drawings and watercolours that Jakob Nussbaum made during his studies and in his Frankfurt years. The Jakob Nussbaum Archive will enable future generations to gain a comprehensive view of the work and thinking of one of the city’s most important Jewish artists from the first half of the 20th century.
The Jewish Museum has developed a digital strategy that envisages a systematic expansion of the museum’s activities out into digital space. In addition to expanding its communications in social media, this strategy also embraces the digitization of the collection, which will be made accessible largely online for research purposes. At the heart of the digital strategy is the development of new communication formats linking real and virtual space, the exhibition visit, the city walk and surfing on the Internet. For this, the new Jewish Museum needs a special IT infrastructure. The Society of Friends and Patrons is helping to make this infrastructure possible.
Competition for an artwork for the new museum forecourt
The Society of Friends and Patrons of the Jewish Museum enabled the holding of a closed competition, in which five renowned artists were invited to participate. The aim was a striking design for an artwork for the new forecourt between the Rothschild Palais and the new building of the Jewish Museum. An international jury reached a unanimous decision in favour of the Israeli artist Ariel Schlesinger and his design for an exciting sculpture. Schlesinger’s art work, Untitled, consists of two intertwined sculptures moulded from one and the same tree and cast in aluminium. One of these two tree-skeletons will be anchored in the ground while the other will stretch its roots upwards to the sky and have its branches interwoven with the crown of the lower tree.
The artwork will be made with the support of Baron David and Baron Eric de Rothschild, the family-run bank Rothschild & Co as well as the Klaus Mangold company in Stuttgart.
Henri Matisse, Le Mur Rose (1898)
A painting by Henri Matisse was shown in 2009 in the exhibition "Raub und Restitution" (Looting and Restitution) organized in cooperation with the Jewish Museums in Berlin and Frankfurt. The painting originally belonged to the Jewish industrial family Fuld in Frankfurt. After the Second World War it was found in the possession of Kurt Gerstein and was then integrated into the collection of the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, from where it was returned to Fuld’s heirs. When it transpired that the legal owners were willing to sell the painting to the Jewish Museum Frankfurt am Main, the Society of Friends and Patrons of the Jewish Museum committed itself to facilitating that purchase.
Through generous donations from the BHF-Bank, the BHF Bank Foundation, a donation by a board member of the BHF-Bank Dietmar Schmid, plus funds from the Society of Friends and Patrons of the Jewish Museum one third of the buying price could be raised. The other two thirds came from the Hessische Kulturstiftung and the Margarethe and Gustav Kober Nachlass. The painting will be on show in the new permanent exhibition.
The Expansion of the Jewish Museum
The Society of Friends and Patrons of the Jewish Museum is particularly committed to the expansion of the Jewish Museum. Private donations played a significant part in promoting the political willingness to support the extension building. For this purpose we made a special appeal for donations and were able to win over a number of patrons who, in the tradition of patronage among Frankfurt’s citizens, wanted to help in the implementation of this major project. We will be acknowledging their outstanding involvement by calling individual rooms after donors and by including their names on a donors’ plaque in the entrance area of the museum. Furthermore, during the building phase we are supporting the museum’s efforts to publicise this process of renewal in a totally new way: the Pop Up Boat in 2016, the Pop Up Monument in 2017 and the Open House Event in autumn 2018 therefore received our backing.
The Society of Friends and Patrons also supported the following activities of the Jewish Museum:
- Inauguration of the Ludwig Meidner Archive
- Installation of contemporary Judaica as a new collection focal point
- Establishment of a collection on contemporary Jewish cultures
- Development of an audio resp. media guide