As the core element of the domestic realm, furniture is found in nearly every museum collection focussing on cultural history. The historisches museum's Furniture Collection testifies to the material culture of daily life in Frankfurt, and focuses above all on describing and explaining the lifestyles of the middle-class citizens of the town. With ceremonial, residential, and work-related furniture dating from the seventeenth century to modern-day design objects, the collection covers a wide and diverse spectrum.
The ten "Frankfurt cabinets" constitute one of the collection's special highlights. This is a category of cabinet whose origins can be traced back directly to furniture production in Frankfurt. In the eighteenth century, with the so-called Frankfurt "Wellenschrank" (wave cabinet) and the "Ecknasenschrank" (corner-nose cabinet) that evolved from it, the Frankfurt cabinetmakers' guild developed a furniture style which lent itself well to variation from one model to the next. Yet the great significance of the Frankfurt cabinets does not lie solely in the master cabinetmakers' high standards of inventiveness, workmanship and technique; these pieces also bear witness to the dynamic of an artisans' guild faced with meeting the demands made by the well-to-do citizenry of this trade-fair and coronation town for luxury.
Model dresser, ca. 1820
With regard to more recent furniture history, the collection of "Frankfurter Küchen" (Frankfurt kitchens) represent yet another specialty of the metropolis on the Main. Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky developed this forerunner to the present-day fitted kitchen which paved women's way to more rationalized housework in an age when they accounted for an increasing proportion of the workforce. With the support of architect and urban planner Ernst May, her invention was developed in several versions and manufactured serially. The normed kitchen ultimately became an integral element of the flats designed by Ernst May for Frankfurt.
The furniture inventory moreover encompasses special individual objects such as a cabinet from the "Kunstkammer" (room holding a private art collection) of the von Barckhaus family, a so-called "Stollenschrank" (high-legged cabinet) with three-dimensional figures and trophy decoration from the estate of the von Günderrode family, Renaissance and Baroque "Kabinettschränkschen" (small cabinets), and an interesting group of furniture models - every one of them a splendid example from the early days of the cabinetmaking craft. Yet the objects found their way into the collection not only on account of the mastery with which they were made, but also by virtue of their historical value. A telling example is the interior of the "Friedenszimmer" (peace room) in Frankfurt's Hotel zum Schwan, where Reich Chancellor Otto von Bismarck and French foreign minister Jule Favre signed the "Peace of Frankfurt" between France and the newly founded German Reich on 10 May 1871.