German Romanticism Museum Frankfurt am Main



A museum in the street scene

It’s the first museum of its kind: the German Romanticism Museum opened in Frankfurt am Main, the birthplace of Goethe, on 14 September 2021. It is the first museum in the world dedicated to the age of German Romanticism in its entirety. Three storeys and an exhibition space measuring approx. 1,200 m? house the collection that the Freies Deutsches Hochstift has curated since 1911.
Founded as an association in 1859, the Freies Deutsches Hochstift has been dedicated to the collection of manuscripts, letters and paintings from the German Romantic era from the very beginning. The Goethe House situated right next to the Romanticism Museum in Grosser Hirschgraben also belongs to the association.

The new build designed by MÄCKLERARCHITEKTEN for the Museum forms an ensemble with the Goethe House and features an architectural style that is reminiscent of Romanticism. The architects always consider a building to be part of a bigger picture, so the size of the building and its street-facing facade are especially important. Christoph Mäckler sees the city, its streets and its squares as public spaces that are shaped by the outer walls of the buildings. In its ideal execution, then, architecture takes the conditions of the growing city and progresses them in a sensible way. The design for the Romanticism Museum does this with a facade that takes the fragmented character of the neighbouring Goethe House and runs with it.

The new build faces the city with three facades, each with their own entrances that contextualise the different uses of the building: museum, temporary exhibitions and cultural celebration. The facades differ in height and proportion, colour and material structure. ‘The different entrances, the special execution of the windows, the oriel and the dormer create an interplay between the interior and the space outside and cultivates the spirit of Romanticism in the street scene,’ Christoph Mäckler explains.

Architect and object

Photo: © Thorsten Jansen

„The outer walls of the buildings are the inner walls of the streets and squares“, architect Christoph Mäckler says of the importance of urban development in architecture.

A song in all things

In order to embellish the street-facing facades with windows in museum with sensitive exhibitions that cannot cope with natural light, the architects positioned the main stairway along the facade, turning the stairway into a highlight of the interior design. Running from the bottom right to the top left, the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ from the street appears to go infinitely up and up. Completely swimming in blue, the space tapers in height and width as it rises, deceiving visitors with its illusionary perspective. The thorn-like blue oriel is a reference to the blue flower that is the central symbol of Romanticism for nostalgia, love and the striving for the infinite.

The presentation of the exhibited works is also extraordinary and synaesthetic in the Romantic sense in its multimedia offering. The curators wanted to display even handwritten manuscripts to the public, which standard museum lighting would not be able to facilitate due to the age of the manuscripts.

The 35 selected original letters, poems and fairy tales by Novalis, Eichendorff and the Brentano siblings are now mysteriously hidden away, secured and protected from light in wooden display cases that illuminate with 50-lux lights only when a visitor opens the ‘treasure chest’.

The architects chose the FSB 1106 model, a handle with soft curves and a traditional design that suits the Romantically inspired interior of the museum perfectly. The model was installed as a window handle (34 1106 17051 6204), door handle (76 1106 61310 6204) and narrow-stile door handle (09 1043 12263 6204). The accessible FSB 4240 lever/lever set was also used, along with the FSB 0802 doorknob with knurling ((23 0802 00005 6204) and without (23 0802 00005 4305).

Building details

Photo: © Eckhart Matthäus Fotografie


German Romanticism Museum Frankfurt am Main

Großer Hirschgraben 23-25,
60311 Frankfurt am Main,