© Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Norbert Miguletz

The new Städel

“Garden halls” and a green hillock

The renowned museum of painting on Frankfurt’s Museum South Bank is opening its new extension – and in so doing doubling available exhibition space

Frankfurt’s citizens truly took their new Städel by storm. During the last weekend in February 2012 there were long queues of people waiting to view the underground extension to the museum and the exhibition on “Contemporary Art – from 1945 to the Present”. In recent years generous bestowals, donations and a consistent acquisitions policy caused the Städel’s collection to swell considerably making it necessary to expand the premises. The new exhibition showcases 330 works – but the real star of the weekend was the new exhibition hall itself.

Frankfurter architects Till Schneider and Michael Schumacher, who both studied at the Städel Academy, created the design for the “garden halls”. The new exhibition hall is flooded with light – and is located beneath the Städel’s garden. A total of 195 circular skylights with diameters of between 1.5m and 2.5m bring daylight into the exhibition hall, which is up to 8m high. From the outside, the extension resembles a green hillock with portholes. On the inside, 12 columns support the stable ceiling and provide for versatility in exhibition configurations. Thanks to the new extension, the Städel has almost doubled its total exhibition space to around 6,000 square meters. The new extension cost EUR 34 million, which was raised from public sources as well as from donations by various companies, foundations, and private individuals – reason enough for weekend festivities with entrance free of charge.

The Städel on Frankfurt’s Museum South Bank is one of Germany’s leading art museums. It was established as a private foundation almost 200 years ago by Frankfurt banker and patron Johann Friedrich Städel. Today, the museum’s collection comprises about 3,000 paintings, 600 sculptures, 500 photographs and over 100,000 drawings and prints. In this way, it brings together under a single roof 700 years of European art history: from the early 14th century through the Renaissance, Baroque, 19th century and classical Modernism to the present. Highlights of the collection are works by Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Dürer, Sandro Botticelli, Rembrandt and Jan Vermeer, by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Beckmann and Alberto Giacometti as well as Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter, Wolfgang Tillmans and Isa Genzken.

Martin Orth