With the opening of the extension for the presentation of contemporary art, the Städel Museum has carried the largest expansion of its nearly two-hundred-year history– with regard to its architecture and its collection alike – to completion. In the autumn of 2009, in conjunction with important additions to the museum’s holdings, work commenced on the construction of an annex designed by the architectural firm schneider+schumacher of Frankfurt. Situated beneath the Städel garden, the new light-flooded halls provide some 3,000 square metres of additional exhibition space, thus doubling the area available for the presentation of the Städel’s holdings. Thanks to the completion of the annex, from now on visitors will be able to experience 700 years of Occidental art under one roof in presentations of equally high quality: the Old Masters, Modern Art and Contemporary Art.
“Together we have achieved so much”, observed Max Hollein, former Städel Museum director. “Thanks to the unparalleled dedication of many, with its new building and the substantial expansion of its contemporary art collection, the Städel has made yet another quantum leap in its history of nearly two hundred years. We interpret this splendid support as a mandate for the institution’s future.”
Amounting to approximately 52 million euros in total (34 million euros for the annex and 18 million for the renovation measures), fifty per cent of the project costs have been funded with support from businesses, foundations and innumerable private citizens, and fifty per cent with public subsidies.
As Prof Nikolaus Schweickart, Chairman of the Städel Foundation, emphasized, “the joint efforts of the public sector and a wide range of business, foundations and privat individuals light an important beacon for the Städel Museum’s continued existence and represent a remarkable demonstration of cultural commitment in the twenty-first century. Museum work in this form would be unthinkable without the active involvement of numerous citizens, partners, patrons, sponsors and visitors.”
“For centuries, Frankfurt has been able to rely on its citizens’ unique sense of loyalty to their city”, former Mayor Petra Roth proudly points out. “All the more does the city of Frankfurt feel an obligation to support the refurbishment of the Städel Museum’s old building and the construction of its new annex with the substantial sum of altogether 16.4 million euros.”
Since its founding some two hundred years ago, the Städel Museum has been a unique art museum, and one which from the beginning acquired the art of each respective era of its history as an integral part of its collection – whether that of the Nazarenes in the early nineteenth century, or later that of the Impressionists and Expressionists. In the new annex, the contemporary art collection will find adequate accommodation in the Städel Museum for the first time. Building on a substantial basis, this collection has undergone significant structural expansion over the past few years. Through the transfer of 600 works from the Deutsche Bank collection and 220 photographs from that of the DZ Bank in 2008, as well as through numerous major donations and a stringent purchasing policy supported substantially by the Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert, altogether some 1,200 additional works of contemporary art have recently made their way into the Städel’s holdings.
As Dr Martin Engler, Head of the Contemporary Art Collection at the Städel, explained, “the presentation of contemporary art in the Städel brings out lines of connection that define the art of the post-war period as an art-historical entity in its own right, as well as one inextricably interlinked with early modern art.” With a selection of more than 330 works, this first presentation of the collection will devote itself to central themes of abstraction and figuration in painting and other media such as drawing, printmaking, photography and sculpture, as well as to the reciprocities between them. Individual areas of the collection have been completely reorganized. Now geometric-constructive abstraction has as much of a place of its own in the Städel as does painting which has expanded within and beyond the boundaries set by the canvas stretcher – into new media and above all into the third dimension. Art Informel, traditionally already well represented in the holdings, has been further enhanced there in recent years by the addition of works by artists of various nationalities, while also being conceptualized historically into the past and future. Above all, however, deliberate emphasis has been placed on showing how the various areas of the collection interrelate. In that context, a special effort has been made to present artistic stances to which relatively little attention has been paid to date, for example geometric abstraction in European post-war art.
The new building designed by the architects schneider+schumacher of Frankfurt and situated beneath the Städel garden provides an optimal setting for the presentation of contemporary art at the Städel Museum. Reaching as much as eight metres in height, the new halls are supplied with light through 195 perfectly round skylights measuring 1.5 to 2.5 metres in diameter and forming a distinctive pattern on the garden lawn. “For us it was important to create a building which can assert itself as independent and prominent work of architecture while at the same time offering optimal space for the presentation of art”, Prof Michael Schumacher of schneider+schumacher explained. “Since the ceiling is supported by a mere twelve columns, the interior offers a high degree of flexibility, making an entirely new spatial structure possible for every new presentation of the collection on the 3,000-square-metre exhibition area”, Till Schneider of schneider+schumacher pointed out. The design of the first presentation was developed with the Kuehn Malvezzi architectural firm of Berlin; with a system of interlocking galleries it offers a flexible path through the contemporary art holdings. As Prof Wilfried Kuehn sumed up the concept of the exhibition design, “the dynamic and intuitive visitor route in the Garden Halls forms a specific contrast to the axial structure of the presentations in the Main Wing”.
Founded in 1815 as a private foundation, the Städel Museum has meanwhile assembled a collection of some 3,000 paintings, 600 sculptures, 500 photographs and more than 100,000 drawings and prints. The Städel thus presents a survey of seven hundred years of European art history from the early fourteenth century, the Renaissance and the Baroque to the nineteenth century, early modern art and the present. Among the highlights of the internationally renowned holdings are works by Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Dürer, Sandro Botticelli, Rembrandt and Jan Vermeer, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Beckmann and Alberto Giacommetti, Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter, Wolfgang Tillmans and Isa Genzken.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Principal: Städelsches Kunstinstitut
Planning period: 03/2008–12/2009
Construction period: 09/2009–02/2012
Dimensions: length of exhibition hall: 55 m
width of exhibition hall: 47.6 m
height of exhibition hall: variable, 6 to 8.2 m
Illumination: 195 skylights measuring 1.5 to 2.5 m in diameter
Exhibition area: 2,913.13 square metres (including lower stairway)
Storage area: 453.42 square metres
Total costs (new construction): 34 million euros
Exhibition design: Kuehn Malvezzi Architekten, Berlin
Graphic design: Peter Schmidt Group
Number of exhibition galleries: 25
Number of works on exhibit: 330
Deputy Director for Financial Affairs: Heinz-Jürgen Bokler
Curator: Dr Martin Engler (Städel Museum)
Curatorial assistance: Carolin Köchling and Anna Fricke (Städel Museum)