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The completed subterranean extension - exterior view © Städel Museum, Norbert Miguletz

The completed subterranean extension - exterior view © Städel Museum, Norbert Miguletz


The Städel Museum / Städelsches Kunstinstitut

Established in 1815 as a civic foundation by the banker and merchant Johann Friedrich Städel, the Städel Museum is regarded as the oldest and most renowned museum foundation in Germany. The diversity of the collection provides an almost complete overview of 700 years of European art history, from the early fourteenth century across the Renaissance, the Baroque and Modernism right up to the immediate present. Altogether the Städel collection comprises some 3,100 paintings, 660 sculptures, more than 4,600 photographs and more than 100,000 drawings and graphic works. Its highlights include works by such artists as Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Dürer, Sandro Botticelli, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Vermeer, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Beckmann, Alberto Giacometti, Francis Bacon, Gerhard Richter, Wolfgang Tillmans and Corinne Wasmuht. The focus of the Städel Museum’s work, alongside collecting and conserving, consists in scholarly research into the museum’s holdings, as well as in the organization of exhibitions based on the works in its care. A further central concern is to put the art across to specific target groups; this aspect addresses both the contents of the collection but also general questions of art, and is aimed at a diversified public. The high level of activity in the research, exhibition and education fields, and not least the outstanding quality of the collection itself, guarantee the Städel an important place on the international museum scene. As Germany’s most important civic foundation in the field of culture, the Städel exemplifies a broad commitment on the part of individual citizens, a commitment that is an essential contribution to the maintenance and development of this institution.

Since its foundation, the Städelsches Kunstinstitut and Städtische Galerie – to give it its full name – has continually enlarged its holdings and integrated current artistic movements into the art-historical canon. Every new acquisition takes into account the museum’s own collection profile, which itself is expanded on an ongoing basis and extended into the present-day. The permanent exhibition is subdivided into ‘Old Masters’, ‘Modern Art’ and ‘Contemporary Art’, while the Graphics Collection displays its holdings in the ‘Studiensaal‘ (‘study room’) as well as in changing exhibitions. In addition, the Städel offers its visitors a number of internationally respected special exhibitions every year, each concerned with the work of individual artists represented in the collection and their respective contexts. The exhibitions are accompanied by a diverse programme of events for children and young people as well as for adults, families and senior citizens. The spectrum of events, interactive guided tours and seminars for different age-groups ranges across the services provided by the Städel Library and Media Center and aims at an intuitive access to the museum collection. All in all, the Städel offers more than 50 different education formats. Individual and active confrontation with the museum’s collection is also supported by the use of media such as social networks, films, digital audio-guides and online education services.

In 1815, the Frankfurt based banker and spice-merchant Johann Friedrich Städel bequeathed his house on Rossmarkt along with his art collection and his fortune for the purpose of setting up the art institute named after him. He directed on the one hand that a public collection be maintained, and on the other that artists be trained at an art academy; the latter, now known as the Städelschule, was later taken over by Frankfurt’s city council. In 1833, the Städelsches Kunstinstitut moved to a home of its own on Neue Mainzer Strasse in Frankfurt. Since 1878, it has occupied purpose-built premises on the Schaumainkai, today known as the ‘Museumsufer Frankfurt’. The history of the institution has been characterized by numerous extensions and modernizations. In 1990, it was enlarged by the addition of a new building on Holbeinstrasse, designed by Gustav Peichl. In 2012, the completion of the Städel underground extension (‘garden halls’) designed by the Frankfurt architects schneider+schumacher took place; this increased the exhibition space by 3,000 square metres for the presentation of the collection of contemporary art at the Städel Museum.

The broad spectrum of the museum’s programme is due above all to the commitment of numerous partners, sponsors and supporters. With the act of donation in 1815 a tradition began, which is carried on to this day: time and again, important works, and indeed whole groups of works, have found their way into the collection as a result of donations. In order to put support by the citizenry on a firm basis and to open up the institution to an even broader social spectrum, the Städelsche Museums-Verein (‘Städel Museum Association’) was founded in 1899, and since then it has constantly made possible the acquisition of important works. In addition, 2008 saw the formation of the ‘Städelkomitee 21. Jahrhundert’ (‘Städel Committee 21st Century’), which is exclusively devoted to the acquisition of contemporary art. The extension completed in 2012, along with the refurbishment of the old building, was financed half-and-half through public and private funds thanks to the unprecedented support received from businesses, non-profit foundations and private citizens. The campaign ‘Frankfurt baut das neue Städel’ (‘Frankfurt Is Building the New Städel’), which was initiated by the museum, involved numerous events in order to support the largest extension of the buildings and their contents in the almost 200-year lasting history of the museum.


8 February to 21 May 2018

The Städel Museum dedicates a comprehensive special exhibition to Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), the world-renowned artist: “Rubens. The Power of Transformation” comprises about one hundred items—including thirty-one paintings and twenty-three drawings by the master—and explores a hitherto little-regarded aspect in his creative process. The presentation reveals how profound the dialogue was into which Rubens entered with his predecessors’ and contemporaries’ achievements and fathoms the scope of their impact on the five decades of his production. Rubens’s extensive oeuvre reflects the influences of ancient sculpture as well as that of the later art from Italy and north of the Alps, from the masters towards the close of the fifteenth century to the artists of his own day. Frequently, only a closer look will reveal how Rubens drew on the work of artists of different epochs: the exhibition offers an opportunity to comprehend the sometimes astonishing correlations in detail. The cross-genre presentation brings together paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and objets d’art. In addition to original sculptures dating from classical antiquity to the Renaissance, the show also encompasses paintings and prints by Rubens’s precursors and contemporaries, among them key works by Titian and Tintoretto, by Goltzius, Rottenhammer, and Elsheimer, as well as by Giambologna, Van Tetrode, and Van der Schardt.


19 September 2018 to 13 January 2019

The Städel Museum’s exhibition paying tribute to the painter Lotte Laserstein (1898–1993) will be on display in Frankfurt from 19 September 2018 to 13 January 2019 and subsequently in the Moderna Museet Malmö. It will be the first solo presentation of the artist’s work to take place outside of Berlin. The show will build on the Städel’s holdings, which has acquired important works by the artist over the past few years: the paintings “Russian Girl with Compact“ of 1928 and “Boy with Kasper Puppet (Wolfgang Karger)“ of 1933. Assembling about fifty works, the exhibition looks into Laserstein’s development as an artist, focusing on her works of the 1920s and 1930s, which mark the highlight of her production. Laserstein’s central concern was portraiture. She rejected traditional role expectations and developed new, especially female images for identification in many of her works. These images found their expression in athletic and fashion-conscious women in control, who reflected the type of the New Woman. The exhibition offers a unique opportunity to become acquainted with this long-forgotten artist’s fascinating work.


26 September 2018 to 13 January 2019

The Städel Museum will present a retrospective dedicated to the important artist Victor Vasarely’s work in autumn 2018. A co-founder and main representative of op art, Vasarely (1906–1997) forged a bridge between modern and contemporary art, between the aesthetically enormously productive interwar era and the post-war avant-gardes. His œuvre spans more than six decades and incorporates the most different styles and influences: born in Hungary, Vasarely was an advertising graphic designer and a key figure of French post-war art rooted in the Bauhaus of the 1920s. First and foremost, however, he stood at the beginning of a development that further blurred the boundaries between free and applied art, between ‘high’ and ‘low’, panel painting and poster, museum and teen room. Conceived in collaboration with the Centre George Pompidou in Paris, ‘Victor Vasarely. In the Labyrinth of Modernism’ traces the roots and genesis of this once-in-a-century œuvre based on key pictures and objects of his major work. Vasarely, whose work is much too willingly reduced to his bewildering op art, is presented in his role as one of the central figures of modern art in the Städel’s show.

Target group

The Städel Museum seeks to provide as many different target groups as possible access to art and culture in a manner tailored to their respective expectations and behaviour.With its education program the museum aims to spark enthusiasm in various target groups for engaging with art and culture. 


Legal Structure: Private foundation
Founding year: 1815
Activity sphere: worldwide
Visitors per year: 402.000 (2013)
  • Guided tour through the Städel Museum © Dominik Dresel
  • Events at the Städel Museum - Eventimpression © Dominik Dresel