Collectors and Donors of Frankfurt

The Insect and Frankofurtensia Collection of the Banker Johann Christian Gerning (1745–1802) of Frankfurt


One of the collections which are on view in the new permanent exhibition "Collectors and Donors of Frankfurt" encompasses two very different categories of objects: the banker Gerning of Frankfurt made a name for himself as a collector of butterflies and Frankofurtensia.


Johann Christian Gerning assembled a comprehensive collection of butterflies (50,000 specimens in 160 crates), insects and birds, among them butterflies previously belonging to Maria Sibylla Merian. His insect holdings - once used by entomologists all over Europe as a reference - are now in the Museum Wiesbaden.


In Gerning's house in Schnurgasse, and later in that on Rossmarkt, he also had an extensive collection of Frankofurtensia as well as architectural studies of the city's most beautiful buildings, engravings on its history, and landscapes views of its environs. Gerning's son bequeathed these holdings to the municipal library in 1805; from there they made their way into the historisches museum in 1877. 



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Page from the

Page from the "Papillons d'Europe, peint d'après nature" (butterfly books), 8 vols., by Jacques Louis Florentin Engramelle, Paris, 1779-93, Inv.-No. Bibl.2009.5143h (c) hmf, photo: U. Dettmar