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Abisag Tüllmann (1935-1996). Photo spreads and theatrical photography


On the occasion of Abisag Tüllmann's 75th birthday, the HMF presented for the first time posthumously the multi-layered work of one of Germany's most important female photographic artists. In addition to her extensive work as a photojournalist and artist, there is also a theater photography oeuvre comprising more than 200 stage performances – both of which the exhibition and the catalog book brought together for the first time.

With over 18,000 visitors, the exhibition met with great public interest and encouraged visitors to come back several times. In addition to the quality of the photographs and their contemporary historical context, the exibition concept was also perceived positively. "Seen for the 2nd time and now recognized: of course wonderful photos, but also extremely well hung and arranged," wrote a visitor in the guest book. Already on the day of the opening, the presentation was presented in a report of the Tagesschau. A consistently positive and extensive coverage in the print and online media followed.

The exhibition was on view at the Museum für Fotografie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin from June 17 to September 18, 2011.

The exhibition project

The basis of the project was an initial scholarly review and evaluation of the estate in the Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz Berlin (50.000 positives, 260,000 negatives, 10.000 slides, archival materials) and in the Deutsches Theatermuseum Munich (17,000 positives, 350,000 negatives, 17,000 slides). In addition to extensive research in other public and private archives, Tüllmann's working methods were traced through interviews with assistants, clients, artist friends and companions.

Spanning forty years of freelance photojournalistic work, the presentation featured a selection of more than 385 black-and-white vintage prints and three color projections, as well as numerous examples of her extensive publishing practice in newspapers, magazines, and books in six large, thematically organized room units.
As a grandiose prelude to Absiag Tüllmann's multifaceted pictorial work, the original photographs for the photo book "Großstadt" (Big City), published in 1963, were on display – a tribute to her adopted home of Frankfurt am Main. Photographs of the events and protagonists of the '68 movement, such as Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Joschka Fischer, of the artist and theater scene in Germany and abroad, with pictures of Joseph Beuys and Bernhard Minetti, as well as of politicians and business leaders, make Abisag Tüllmann a chronicler of contemporary history in the second half of the 20th century. This also applies to her foreign reports on post-colonial developments in Algeria, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, South Africa and the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Tüllmann's second focus of work was theater photography. Important speech and musical theater stages were her clients at home and abroad. The first photographs, found in the course of research in a private collection, were taken as early as the early 1960s in Frankfurt. The artistic collaboration with Claus Peymann, which lasted almost thirty years and whose productions she accompanied photographically, represented a highlight of the exhibition.
Since 1958, Abisag Tüllmann's photographs in newspapers, magazines and books have shaped the collective visual memory of the German and international public. As a photojournalist and theater photographer, she focused her gaze on the political, social and artistic upheavals of her time. With enigmatic humor, she observed everyday life and the conditions of human coexistence in the world. Themes such as exclusion, homelessness and the vulnerability of human existence were always at the center of her committed photographic work. These important aspects, which characterize Tüllman's work, were given special consideration in the exhibition concept.
The show was created in cooperation with the Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin, the Deutsches Theatermuseum, Munich, and the Abisag Tüllmann Stiftung, Frankfurt, which preserve the largely unpublished photgraphic and written estate.

The accompanying book

On 304 pages and with 298 b/w and color illustrations, the accompanying book offers a well-founded insight into the multifaceted work of Abisag Tüllmann. The six thematic essays by Martha Caspers, Monika Haas, Barbara Lauterbach, Kristina Lowis, Katharina Sykora, and the biography compiled by Ulrike May are based on previously unknown written sources, private photographs, and numerous conversations with contemporary witnesses. The catalog book, published by Hatje Cantz Verlag and excellently printed, is a pioneering work. In the trade journal PHOTO international, Hans-Michael Koetzle confirmed: "Apart from the slim catalog from 1995, there has not been a single monograph on Abisag Tüllmann to date [...] Against this background, the present publication is nothing less than the very first historical-critical work on an artist who can certainly be counted among the most important representatives of German photography" (issue 02/2011, p. 22f).

The accompanying program

A special highlight of the accompanying program was the all-day event "Between Stillness and Movement – Abisag Tüllmann's Works for Film" on January 30, 2011 at Mal Seh'n Kino. In three large sequences, the films "Von der Schönheit des Alltäglichen. The Photographer Abisag Tüllmann," Germany 1966 by Carola Benninghoven, "Do Right and Shun No One – The Life of Gerda Siepenbrink," FRG 1975, by Jutta Brückner, "The All-Sided Reduced Personality – Redupers," FRG 1977, by Helke Sander and "The Trip to Lyon, FRG 1978-80" by Claudia von Alemann were shown. During the screenings, which were almost always sold out, the directors present gave vivid accounts of their collaboration with Abisag Tüllmann and her often not insignificant contributions to the film projects. The event and the catalog contribution by Monika Haas clearly crystallized the phothographer's hitherto completely unknown or unconsidered interest in film.
On March 2, 2011, Katharina Sykora, professor at the Braunschweig University of Fine Arts, presented in her lecture "Schauplatz Großstadt. Abisag Tüllmann's Frankfurt Views", she presented the photo book "Großstadt" in detail. She was able to clearly demonstrate the outstanding photographic and design modernity of the Frankfurt photo book by comparing it with publications of the same time, such as "Das Münchener Jahr" (1957) by Elisabeth Niggemeyer and "Wolfsburg – Bilder einer jungen Stadt" (1963) by Heinrich Heidersberger.

The finissage on March 27 was a croning conclusion to the last presentation in the "new building" from 1972 before its demolition. The invited guests, Prof. Jean Christophe Ammann, former director of the Museum of Modern ARt, the mayor Jutta Ebeling and the cellist Frank Wolff, vivdly presented their favorite Tüllmann photographs to the numerous visitors in short guided tours.

What follows and what remains?

The exhibition was shown from June 17 to September 18, 2011 at the Museum für Fotografie, Sammlung Fotografie der Kunstbibliothek, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. A third follow-up exhibition is being planned.
Extensive new source material was researched as part of the project research. These written records, letters and photographs will be handed over by the Abisag Tüllmann Foundation, Frankfurt, to the Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz Berlin to complete the estate located there and thus made accessible for future research. The HMF itself received photographs and posters relating to Frankfurt for its own collection from the Abisag Tüllmann Foundation and from private collections.


Martha Caspers M.A. (Projektleitung)
Dr. Kristina Lowis, Barbara Lauterbach M.A., Ulrike May M.A.


exposition GbR, Frankfurt / M. – Martin Krämer und Sabine Gutjahr

Sponsors and Cooperation Partners

Abisag Tüllmann Stiftung, Frankfurt / M.
Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, Berlin 
Deutsches Theatermuseum, München 
Dr. Marschner Stiftung, Frankfurt / M.
Evonik Industries AG, Frankfurt / M.
Hessische Kulturstiftung, Wiesbaden 
Kulturamt Stadt Frankfurt / M.
Richard Stury Stiftung, München
Wüstenrot Stiftung, Ludwigsburg

Partners accompanying program

Mal Seh'n Kino 
Römer 9, Evangelische Stadtakademie
Zentralbibliothek Stadtbücherei Frankfurt am Main

accompanying book

Abisag Tüllmann 1936-1996. Bildreportagen und Theaterfotografie, 304 Seiten, 298 SW- und Farbabbildungen mit Texten von Martha Caspers, Monika Haas, Barbara Lauterbach, Kristina Lowis, Ulrike May, Katharina Sykora, hrsg. von Martha Caspers, erschienen als Bd. 30 der Schriften des historischen museums frankfurt, hrsg. von Jan Gerchow, Hatje Cantz Verlag, ISBN 978-3-7757-2708-2, Preis 29,80 €

When (not only) architects are allowed to dream... New project ideas for Frankfurt


In the exhibition "When Architects Can Dream. New Project Ideas for Frankfurt", eleven visions of Frankfurt architects were shown at the HMF, who freely designed their dream project independently of economic, planning law and political guideline. The HMF encouraged its visitors to dream together with the architects and to sketch their ideas of a different Frankfurt. A résumé.

The Rhein-Main-Zeitung, the regional section of the FAZ, had asked eleven renowned Frankfurt architectural firms to each produce a design that would not have to take into account budgets, laws, ownership structures, or even public opinion. In this experimental arrangement, no space was considered undevelopable, no existing building untouchable. It was not a question of a concrete program for Frankfurt; the exhibition was intended to show what is conceivable.

When visitors are allowed to dream

„I dream of a city in which everything is in motion and yet at rest within itself." What one visitor to the exhibition expressed poetically, other visitors formulated with concrete design wishes for the city. A city toll for a more bicycle-friendly city center, a speakers corner and a walk of fame for Frankfurt, lavender and roses for Goetheplatz, a drug-free Konstablerwache, the world's second-largest skyscraper, bathing islands in the Main River, a Viktualienmarkt for Frankfurt, hangig gardens or rooftop terraces on skyscrapers – these "dreams" are just a few examples of the more than 100 contributions made by visitors during the month-long exhibition.

Despite the complexity of the dreams outlined, one body of opinion can be discerned in the contributions: The city should be a green living space. Multiple mentions, such as a car-free city center, tunnels underneath for car traffic, the expansion of public transport, the revitalization of the Main riverbank, the creation of more parks, green spaces and squares with quality of stay testify to this. It is probably also this public spirit that is reflected in the visitor favorites of Frankfurt's architectural designs:
Visitors chose Stefan Forster's design as the clear favorite, which uses the example of Elbestraße in the Bahnhofsviertel to show what a traffic-calmed city greened by front gardens can look like. The second visitor favorite is the concept of the architect trio Ferdinand Heide, Thomas Meurer and Ingo Schrader, who envisage strengthening the Wallanlage as a public green space and increasing the density of the surrounding buildings. Third place is shared by three visions. The lido at the "Nice" by Albert Dietz and Annett-Maud Joppien, the summer pavilion on the banks of the Main at the height of the Wesel shipyard by the Scheffler/Menges office partnership, and the design of the B-levels, parking garages and subway stations by Till Schneider and Michael Schumacher.
The lively visitor interest in contributing their own ideas of a different Frankfurt and the high and discussion-oriented participation in the two panel events on September 15 and October 1 showed that a qualified debate was stimulated about what is possible and what is necessary. The HMF has sent an evaluation of the visitors' contributions to the city planning office.

Strangers in sight. Photo albums from the Second World War


Exactly 21,507 visitors were attracted to the exhibition "Strangers in Sight. Photo Albums from the Second World War" at the HMF. A well-attended framework program and two guest books filled with international entries rounded of this record number. What is special about the exhibition is that it presents a private pictorial history of the Second World War. The fact that this provides a different approach to Nazi history was summed up in the visitors' book by an Antwerp woman who now lives in the Taunus region: "Very impressive! The pictures and comments get under my skin more than official reports – thank you!"

The exhibition subject

Seventy years after the beginning of the war, the following generations are negotiating the estates and memories from the Second World War more intensively than ever. How do families deal with the often concealed photo archives, stored in closets and drawers? The exhibition "Strangers in Sight – Photo Albums from World War II" offers readings and perspectives for a deeper understanding of these photo archives. "The photographs in the exhibition show the German soldiers' views of foreign people, landscapes and cultural monuments in the occupied countries," says Dr. Petra Bopp, art historian and curator. "We examined both the motifs and the visual aesthetics of the photographs, as well as the influence of wartime propaganda on private and amateur photography."
In 1939, around ten percent of all Germans owned their own camera. Many soldiers willingly followed the call from the Ministry of Propaganda "not to let the camera rest even during the war". In addition to the field post letters, the snapshots of the soldiers were also intended to strengthen the bon between the front and the homeland. Families carefully preserved the pictures of the absent in their living rooms at home. Arrangement and commentary point to the subjective constructions of war memories. They make clear how the war was seen, not how it was. Many convolutions follow the historical course of the war.: The invasion of Poland in 1939, the "Blitzkrieg" on the Western Front in 1940, and the war of extermination in the East beginning in 1941. Significantly fewer photographs were taken during the retreat from 1943 to 1945. Only a few photographs of captivity in war have survived from British camps in North Africa and from Soviet camps.

In the beginning, the soldiers photographed camerawork and everyday military life in the barracks and proudly presented their first uniforms in professional sutdio portraits. In the occupied countries and at the front, the camera focused not only on the destruction of the Wehrmacht, but also on the fleeing civilian population and prisoners of war. Many photographs repeated the tourist gaze; at the same time, the view of the foreign was also shaped by racist Nazi image propaganda.
Thus, although the photographing soldiers did not show more authentic images of the front, they did show a more differentiated perspective than that of the "picture reporters" in the service of the propanganda companies, whose images dominated the official view of the war. The soldiers intensively exchanged their photos with each other, so that the albums reflect different perceptions of the war. Behing the snapshots, which at first seem harmless, uncertainty and fear, but also violence and destruction caused by combat appear. The individuality of the war narratives and personal fates often becomes apparent on the final album pages. Death, wounding, or capture cause the images to dry up abruptly, leaving blank pages. The group picture with the family symbolizes the return home, photos of comradeship meetings continue the war album into the 1950s.

 Exhibits and set-up of the exhibition

Original albums, black-and-white reproductions, and slide and film projections were presented on about 450 square meters of exhibition space in Frankfurt. Around 150 photo albums from private collections – on loan from former Wehrmacht soldiers and their relatives from northern Germany – as well as albums from museums and archives formed the basis of the exhibition. It was supplemented by albums and snapshots from the Photography Collection of the Munich City Museum. In the course of the research project conducted by curator Dr. Petra Bopp, which preceded provided information in detailed interviews about the motifs of the photos, the layout of the album, and the motivation for taking the photographs. Three of these interviews, as well as the reading of field letters, can be heard in media stations throughout the exhibition.
Twelve fully reproduced albums were available to the public for self-study at seated tables in the middle of the exhibition, which was set up as a tour – an offer that was very well received. A complementary room in Frankfurt focused on the way in which certain pictorial motifs spread and became standardized through buying and exchanging practices. It became clear that private albums from the Second World War were mostly a mixture of photos taken by various snapshooters, amateurs or even professional propaganda photographers.

Accompanying program

The topic of National Socialism poses problems for pedagogy time and again. It always touches the boundaries between the legal and the illegal, the morally desirable and the reprehensible, and it touches on the most diverse individual experiences, desires and fears. – Thus, the topic often leads to particularly emotional debates and remains an urgent topic of the present and thus of school and extracurricular education. The HMF was therefore very happy to accept the offer of cooperation from the Pedagogigcal Center – an institution of the Jewish Museum and the Fritz Bauer Institute. With its extensive experience, it wanted to participate in conveying the multi-layered contents of the exhibition.

The supporting program consisted of lecturers and talks, offered general and thematic tours of the exhibition as well as public tours in Russian for the first time. The film program, put together in cooperation with the Cinematography of the Holocaust at the Fritz Bauer Institute, was held at the cinema "Pupille. Cinema at the University." In the event room designed for the exhibition, a separate area was available for events with pupils and students. At Goethe University, a block seminar was held on the topic "Strangers in the Sight. Photogaphs as Sources for the History of World War II" by Dr. Jörg Osterloh and Gottfried Kößler.
Probably the most unusual series of events took place under the name "Your albums under the magnifying glass". Here, citizens could come to the museum with their photos and albums from the Second World War and have one-on-one conversations about them with employees of the museum and the Fritz Bauer Institute. Mostly the second generation of the daughters and sons of the war participants came to the museum, sometimes also the grandchildren, often as support of a process of confrontation of their parents with the family history and occaisionally contemporary witnesses were also guests – in total there were 80 individuals or families. "The fact that so many visitors took up this offer in particular shows how topical the subject of World War II still is in the family life of Germans," explains Petra Spona, historian and coordinator of the Frankfurt presentation of the traveling exhibition. She and her colleagues endeavored to answer the various questions about the origin of photos, the comparability of albums with others, the tasks of soldiers and possible complicity in the war, and research paths. In these conversations, the individual views of the soldiers and family memories should be the subject of discussion. They should complement the exhibition, through which above all the discrepancy between objective historical knowledge of German history and the often positively formed, subjective memory of fathers and grandfathers becomes clear and which offers th echance to convey both and thus to take an unusual path of learning.

Visitors make museum

New collection of the HMF
Many participants in these conversations about the albums had often only realized after the death of their father or grandfather that the albums were not only personal memories, but also valuable documents of contemporary history. 40 visitors donated their picture memories to the museum to preserve them for later generations. Through this collaboration between the museum and visitors, a separate collection of World War II photo albums of Frankfurt provenance was created during the exhibition period. "The many transfers to the museum show that awareness has grown that these private records are also valuable cultural assets worthy of preservation," Petra Spona sums up.

Due to the new collection, an unusual finissage could take place in the last exhibition week: The interns Christian Rödig and Natalie Wahnsiedler had arranged the received 22 albums, four sample albums, four large and ten small photo volumes, five books and five more extensive document collections in showcases for the Frankfurt public.
The spectrum of exhibits showing how Wehrmacht soldiers from Frankfurt experienced World War II was wide. One album, made of wood and covered with metal, was given to the commander of an armored regiment by his unit, another showed a fireman who had served in an air force fire unit during World War II, and a third small mat album was given to a woman by her beau who had been at the front. Sample albums of companies completed in several copies were also included, as well as a scrapbook with photos of Hitler. In addition, there were photos showing the everyday life of soldiers on duty and during the break in the fighting, but also photographing the victims of massacres.
On the last weekend, two outstanding donations were presented in a little more detail by the coordinator of the Frankfurt exhibition, Petra Spona. These were the guest book of a soldier's home in Florence, Italy, as an exceptionally rare object, and the photo collection of a Wehrmacht soldier who was deployed in the Ukraine in 1941/42, particularly in Lviv. He left behind very revealing and frightening photographic documents of the change from Soviet to German occupation of the district capital, inhabited mainly by Poles and Jews. The new collection is now available to researchers for further research.

Preservation of eyewitness experiences via documentary film interviews

During conversations about their albums, many visitors regretted that they could no longer ask their relatives today what they had experienced at the time. In order to preserve the memories of contemporary witnesses for posterity, the HMF and the Fritz Bauer Institue, with the support of Claus Withopf, lecturer in film/video at the Hochschule für Gestaltung Offenbach am Main, and his student film team, filmed interviews with four contemporary witnesses following the exhibition. In the meantime, two films have emerged from this.

Press reactions

The good response to the exhibition is also reflected in the intensive regional and national media coverage on radio and television, as well as in the feature pages of the FAZ, ZEIT, Spiegel and Svenska Dagbladet, a major Swedish daily newspaper..

Stations of the touring exhibition

Stadtmuseum Oldenburg: 20.06.2009 bis 13.09.2009
Münchner Stadtmuseum: 20.11.2009 bis 28.02.2010
historisches museum frankfurt: 14.04.2010 bis 29.08.2010
Stadtmuseum Jena: 24.09.2010 bis 30.01.2011
Kreismuseum Peine: 27.02.2911 bis 15.05.2011
Armeemuseum Delft/Niederlande: 27.04.2012 bis 29.07.2012
Joanneum Graz: 19.10.2012 bis 01.09.2013
More in planning

Accompanying books

Result of the research project: Petra Bopp, Fremde im Visier. Fotoalben aus dem Zweiten Weltkrieg, Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld 2009; 160 Seiten mit zahlreichen Abbildungen; 29, 80 € (available in bookstores, sold out at the museum)
Exhibition catalog: Petra Bopp, Sandra Starke, Fremde im Visier - Fotoalben aus dem Zweiten Weltkrieg, Broschüre zur Ausstellung, Kerber Verlag, Bielefeld 2009; 72 Seiten mit zahlreichen Abbildungen; 6,00 Euro

Cooperation partners and sponsors

The exhibition, conceived by Dr. Petra Bopp and Sandra Starke, is the result of a research project conducted by Dr. Petra Bopp at the Universites of Oldenburg and Jena. It was realized in cooperation between the Stadtmuseum Oldenburg, the Sammlung Fotografie im Münchner Stadtmuseum, the Stadtmuseum Jena and the HMF. The exhibition was made possible by the Foundation of Lower Saxony, the Lower Saxony Savings Bank Foundation in Hanover and the Landessparkasse zu Oldenburg, as well as CeWe Color in Oldeburg and D8 digital Lab in Munich. Sponsors of the Frankfurt presentation include the Historical-Archaeological Society and the Fazit Foundation from Frankfurt as well as the Alfred Töpfer Foundation F.V.S. from Hamburg. The extensive accompanying program was carried out together with the Fritz Bauer Institute, the Jewish Museum and Pupille – Kino an der Uni.


Dr. Petra Bopp, Sandra Starke
In cooperation with
Stadtmuseum Oldenburg
Sammlung Fotografie im Münchner Stadtmuseum
historisches museum frankfurt
JenaKultur Stadtmuseum

Exhibition coordination in Frankfurt

Dr. Petra Spona, HMF


Martin Krämer and Sabine Gutjahr, exposition GbR, Frankfurt am Main

Frankfurt’s democratic modernity and Leopold Sonnemann. Jew – publisher – politician – patron


The Alte Oper, the Palmengarten, the Frankfurter Hof or the Unity Monument on Paulsplatz: places in Frakfurt that everyone know. What is hardly known is that they would not exist without Leopold Sonnemann.

At best, he is known as the foundre of the Frankfurter Zeitung. Yet throughout his life he fought for a democratic modernity. For him, democratization and modernization were inseparable. The founding of his newspaper was exemplary for this, as was the International Electrotechnical Exhibition in Frankfurt in 1891, which he initiated.
National Socialism, World War II and the destruction of Frankfurt, however, caused a break in the tradition. The democrat and mentor Leopold Sonnemann fell into oblivion. However, his commitment as a publisher, democratic politician and patron of the arts had a decisive influence on Frankfurt's development into a modern metropolis. In cooperation with the Jewish Museum, the HMF showed Leopold Sonnemann's work in all its diversity for the first time. At the same time, visitors were presented with a lively panorama of Frankfurt in the 19th century on its way to becoming a European metropolis.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung noted, "If the people of Frankfurt don't recall their Sonnemann now, they can't be helped."

Made possible by

Frankfurter Societät

Media partner

Frankfurter Neue Presse


Ernst Max von Grunelius-Stiftung
Georg und Franziska Speyer'sche Hochschulstiftung
Stiftung Polytechnische Gesellschaft
Europäische Zentralbank

Peter Struwwel – Heinrich Hoffmann. A Frankfurt life 1809 - 1894


To recall the other, the unknown Heinrich Hoffmann on the occasion of his 200th birthday was the intention of the central exhibition of the Heinrich Hoffmann Summer 2009 in Frankfurt. Or, to put it in the words of one visitor: "Finally, the city has come up with the idea to honor the whole Heinrich Hoffmann." The show, then, focused on Hoffmann's multifaceted commitment to Frankfurt's civil society against the backdrop of his long life, from his childhood during the wars of liberation against Napoleon, through the revolution of 1848, to the German Empire under Wilhelm I.

Only here was the rarely show original manuscript of the most famous German children's book on display. But not only that: the exhibition also presented Hoffmann's multifaceted life's work, who was active as a mortuary attendant, obstetrician, doctor for the poor, and director of the "insane asylum" in his father city. As a founder and member of numerous political and literary associations and foundations, he also played a significant role in the social life of his hometown. The exhibition illustrated Hoffmann's fascinating life and offered a panorama of the Frankfurt bourgeoisie from the pre-March period to the Empire. A path with children's stations and an accompanying educatonal program made the exhibition an exciting experience for children and adults alike.

The structure of the exhibition

The exhibition was divided into six sections, four of which were predominantly biographical (Childhood in Frankfurt 1809-1828; Medical Studies 1828-1834; Doctor in Frankfurt 1834-1851; "Lunatic Asylum" at Affenstein 1851-1888) and two sections were devoted to overarching themes (Politics; Art – Literature – Children's Books).

Childhood in Frankfurt 1809-1828

Heinrich Hoffmann was born into an eventful time. The Napoleonic Wars and the subsequent reorganization of Europe did not leave Frankfurt unscathed. Growing up in this time, in which the striving for freedom and the longing for national unity collided with the restoration of political conditions, shaped Hoffmann's later political thinking.
Hoffmann's family was composed of two very different branches: The father had achieved social advancement from a modest artisan background to become an architect and municipal path and bridge builder. The mother, on the other hand, came from a wealthy wine merchant family. Hoffmann's grandfather Johann Heinrich Gerhard Lausberg owned an impressive collection of paintings: a highlight of the exhibition chapter was the painting "Paul and Barnabas are Worshipped as Gods in Lystra" by Adriaen van Stalbemt from the collection of Hoffmann's grandfather. The exhibition showed the political and social environment in which Heinrich Hoffmann grew up, and which was to shape him troughout his life. In addition, the everyday life of the pupil Heinrich Hoffmann was also illuminated: An original school report of Hoffmann reveals that he – probably due to his distinct imagaination and creativity – did not have an entirely easy time at school.


 Medical studies in Heidelberg, Halle and Paris (1829-1834)

In 1829, Heinrich Hoffmann made a momentous decision on the advice of his father: he went to Heidelberg to study medicine. This was followed by a doctorate in Halle and finally a practical year in Paris – at that time the center of medical research. During his time as a student, Hoffmann not only became acquanted with the leading physicians and their methods of diagnosis and healing – medical teaching aids of the time were on display in the exhibition – but also participated intensively in student life. Numerous objects from the student culture of the Vormärz period demonstrated the living environment of the students of the time. Throughout this time, Hoffmann maintained contact with his family in Frankfurt through a lively correspondence. Some of these letters and drawings were on display in the exhibition.

Physician in Frankfurt (1834-1851)

In Frankfurt, Hoffmann was given the position of mortuary attendant at the Sachsenhausen cemetery after his return. Morgues were intended to prevent mock dead people from being buried alive. At the same time, Hoffmann became involved in a newly established clinic for the poor, for which he also held regular consultations in Bornheim. In Sachsenhausen he ran a private practice and was active as an obstetrician. Doctor Hoffmann's practice sign was certainly one of the highlights of the department. But also on display was the birth certificate Hoffmann issued for his son Carl, for whom he would later draw and write the Struwwelpeter as a Christmas present.
The appointment as a teacher at the traditional Senckenberg Anatomy in 1844 finally meant a career leap. A dissecting table, specimens from the Senckenberg Anatomy as well as a model of the old Senckenbergianum, medical instruments of the time and, last but not least, Heinrich Hasselhorst's painting "Die Sektion" (The Dissection) impressively demonstrated the working environment of the physician Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann.


Art – Literature – Children's Book, an "Outlandisch Hobby"

Founding associations was a hobby of the "sociable unversal genius" and "networker" Heinrich Hoffmann, which was typical for the 19th century. In the Ärzteverein (1845), Frankfurt's physicians joined together for scientific instruction and promotion. The Bürgerverein (1848) served as a forum for the social rapprochement of all classes. The Tutti Frutti (1840-1845), like the Catacombs (1849-1851), brought together painters, poets and musicians for the mutual presentation of their artistic creations. It was also in this "creative workshop" that Struwwelpeter was first performed in public and its printing was encouraged. In addition, Hoffmann and his wife held their own salon in the official apartment in the insane asylum on the Affenstein, which was attended by many influential members of Frankfurt society and out-of-town guests.
The exhibition focused on Hoffmann's creative environment and thus took a new look at his own artistic work. In particular, the circle of the Tutti Frutti and Catacombs as well as Hoffmann's activity as administrator of the Städel thus came into focus. On display, for example, were the illustrated minute books of the Tutti Frutti and an illustrated novel that the club members collectively developed. Of course, this was also the place for the original manuscript of Struwwelpeter from 1844 as well as numerous drawings and manuscripts of Hoffmann's other children's books.


Politics — "Hark, my people!"

Hoffmann's political biography is typical of a large part of his generation in several respects: as a student and as a young doctor in Frankfurt, he was attached to the national idea and helped organize national celebrations, such as the first German Singers' Festival in 1838 or the Gutenberg celebration in 1840. The magnificently painted flag that the winegrowers carried with them at the four-hundredth anniversary of the invention of the art of printing is an attractive object in the exhibition. In addition, there were other testimonies of the political festive and association culture of the pre-March and the 1848 Revolution. Above all, they showed the process of communilization that political activities of that time meant.
In the 1848 period, Hoffmann became a deputy in the pre-parliament that prepared the first German National Parliament, but was disappointed by the Prussian king's rejection of the imperial crown. Hoffmann's involvement during this period was reflected in both pathetic songs and biting satirical writings, which were on display in the exhibition. In addition, his Struwwelpeter became one of the most popular figures of contemporary political satire; the exhibition also showed impressive examples of this. Hoffmann finally saw his political goals achieved in the annexation of Frankfurt by Prussia in 1866 and the unification of the German Reich in 1870/71.

Das "lunatic asylum" on the Affenstein

When Hoffmann was appointed director of the "Institution for the Insane and Epileptic" in 1851, he immediately set about realizing his life's mission: in an impressive campaign, he promoted a modern new building for the clinic on the Affenstein. Together with the architect Oskar Pichler, he undertook an extended study trip through several countries to learn about the latest findings in psychiatry and hospital construction and to apply them in Frankfurt – Hoffmann's and Pichler's preserved travel passports bear direct witness to this journey.
The Frankfurt asylum, built in the Gothic style, was opened in 1864 and was the largest building in the city at the time. Pichler's magnificently colored original design illustrates the dimension of this project, which Hoffmann had always considered his life's work. Hoffmann presided over the institution as director until his retirement in 1888. The exhibition allowed a glimpse into the everyday life of the patients by displaying therapeutic instruments of the time and making it possible to experience the medical histories of Hoffmann's patients by means of listening stations. In addition, relics found during excavations in 2008 on the grounds of the asylum were displayed.
„Hoffmann was famous... but I didn't know who he was”, wrote one of the exhibition visitors in the visitors' book. To many Frankfurtians and non-Frankfurters, Heinrich Hoffmann remained an unknown quantity, despite their childhood reading of Struwwelpeter. The exhibition in the summer of 2009 and the accompanying catalog book gave and still gives them ample opportunity to make closer acquaintance with this extraordinary Frankfurter.
The exhibition was a project of the Heinrich Hoffmann Summer 2009 and was kindly supported by the Stiftung Polytechnsiche Gesellschaft, Stiftung Flughafen Frankfurt/Main, Ernst Max von Grunelius Stiftung, Aventis Foundation, Cronstetten und Hynspergische Evangelische Stiftung zu Frankfurt am Main, 1822-Stiftung, Fazit-Stiftung, Historisch-Archäologische Gesellschaft Frankfurt am Main e.V., media partner Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Accompanying book

Heinrich Hoffmann – Peter Struwwel. Ein Frankfurter Leben 1809–1894. Hrsg. von Wolfgang P. Cilleßen und Jan Willem Huntebrinker, Michael Imhof Verlag 2009, 383 pages, over 250 ill.., Schriften des Historischen Museums, Bd. 28, 19,95 €

Liselotte Strelow (1908-1981) – Retrospectives


Exhibitions on women photographers are a fixed part of the program of the HMF. At the beginning of 2009, the series was excellently complemented with the acquisition of the retrospective Liselotte Strelow (19908-1981) from the LVR-Landesmuseum Bonn. On the occasion of Strelow's 100th birthday in 2008 and fittingly on the occasion of the 60th birthday of the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2009, the photographer, who had largely been forgotten, was introduced to a broad public.

After her training and initial studio successes as a photographer in Berlin during the Nazi era, Liselotte Strelow moved to the Rhineland after the Second World War. There, she consciously shaped her career as a professional photographer and photo artist of the young Federal Republic. Politicians, artists and actors from Germany and abroad as well as the elite of the German economic miracle sat for her. The presentation of 220 original portrait and theater photographs from the period 1942/43 to 1971 was supplemented by magazines, books and films that attracted particular attention. In the film series "Sagt die Fotografie die Wahrheit?" (Does photography speak the truth?, WDR, 1965-1967), Liselotte Strelow herself explains her working methods in great detail. The information provided by the selected sequences was taken up with great interest by many visitors, who were able to deal with the subject of the manipulation of photography, e.g. through retouching, directly on the original.
The accompanying program sought to trace the atmosphere of the "years of the economic miracle," a period that Liselotte Strelow helped to shape. In cooperation with the HMF, the Deutsches Filmmuseum offered a film series. In the exciting reading "Nach den Tagen des Zorns" (After the Days of Wrath), Barbara Englert and pianist Jacob Bussmann combined works by the female poets and composers portrayed by Strelow. The event on International Women's Day, conceived in cooperation with the Frankfurt Women's Department, was a complete success. Like the photographs of those portrayed by Strelow, it vividly revealed the continuities and contradictions of the post-war period in West Germany.

An exhibition in cooperation with the LVR LandesMuseum Bonn and the Gesellschaft Photo Archiv e.V. Bonn.

The ‘68 generation – short summer, long legacy


With this exhibition, the HMF revitalized a tradition that had been part of the museum's trademark until the early 1980s: the large contemporary HMF exhibition. Younger visitors were quite surprised to discover that the HMF was also a theme, and that the conceptual change in the early 1970s was part of the effect of the "short summer". Part of the newness was the contemporary history exhibition and the goal of having the permanent exhibition end in the present as well.

The question often asked during the months of the '68 run: "Do the '68ers belong in the museum?" is answered with "No" if museumization is equated with "loss of relevance." The clear "yes" as an answer includes a no less clear "yes" to the historical museum as a mediator of past and present. "Into the museum" does not mean the end of the line. "Into the museum" is a condition for discourse about the 40 years between that eventful and moving year and today in the medium of an exhibition.
The visitors' books of the exhibition offer 380 pages of entries with evaluations of the exhibition. Well over 90% are positive. Often the age, the affiliation to the generation of the 68ers or to the generation of the post-born can be inferred. Also the self-assessment as "68er" (or not) can be read again and again. The positive evaluation of the exhibition does not correlate with age and self-assessment. This observation is interesting in relation to the conception of the exhibition. Developed by "post-born" curators, it excluded the evocation of a myth of "68" or a conception from the point of view of the avant-garde, as well as the attempt at a definition or pinpoint interpretations of the effect. Since visitor criticism of a lack of mythologization or heroization remains isolated, the praise of the aforementioned percentage of writing visitors can be related to the exhibition conception.

"Very good exhibition even for non-68ers" writes a visitor who witnessed the period. "...What moved my parents and how it still affects them today," writes a student. According their own information, visitors were in the exhibition for up to seven hours and wanted to come again or visited the exhibition for the third time. One entry wishes for "several 100,000 visitors," while another visitor writes, "This presentation needs to go all over the world." A visitor from the USA, who introduces himself as George, shares: "Very informative and eye-opening. I only had one day here at your fantastic exhibition. Thank you very much." Foreign visitors came from the USA, England, Japan, Taiwan, Spain, Italy and Switzerland. The multi-media nature of the exhibition was rated positively across the board. The virtual discussion, which introduced the exhibition, also met with emphatic approval. Not necessarily nostalgic are recurring entries by young visitors comparing "the eventful times" with today. Recurring attributions are "exciting" and "insightful."
Finally, since the meaning of "68" is controversially discussed in the public, it is noticeable that the entries that directly comment on "68" are significantly fewer in number than the exhibitio comments. The exhibition is a medium with its own laws. In museum discourse, it is disputed whether every topic can be exhibited. On the other hand, it is certain that with the choice of the medium "exhibition", the topic is given a special cut. An exhibition offers a discourse with images and things. If it "promotes knowledge", it has achieved a goal. "It can also be "exciting" and, as one visitor commented, "true to life".
The exhibition "The 68ers. Short summer – long effect" has been well received by the public.

Frankfurt and the North Pole. Explorers and researchers in the eternal ice: 1861 - 1931


The scientific exploration of Jan Mayen began with the Frankfurt North Voyge of Georg Berna in 1861. In 1865, Frankfurt was the cradle of German polar research. Here Alfred Wegener presented the theory of continental drift for the first time in 1912. In the 70 years between 1861 and 1931, there were more than ten expeditions to Jan Mayen, Greenland, Emperor Franz Josef's Land and Spitsbergen with significant participation of researchers who were at home in Frankfurt and Hesse.

An exhibition on the fourth International Polar Year from March 1, 2007 to March 1, 2009. The tradition of the Polar Years was founded in 1882/1883 by Carl Weyprecht and continued for the second time in 1932/1933 by Johannes Georgi. The third Polar Year 1957/1958 was at the same time the International Geophysical Year, when the Soviet Union succeeded for the first time to advance into space. The preoccupation with the Frankfurt aspect of Arctic exploration goes back to a book manuscript by the Frankfurt polar explorer Theodor Lerner (1866-1931). The exhibition was organized in close cooperation with the Senckenberg Natural History Museum, the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven and the German Society for Polar Research. On display were globes, maps and nautical instruments, equipment of the polar voyagers, fauna and minerals of the Arctic, letters, documents and expedition works, oil paintings and pictures of the North and the northern voyagers, short films about some ventures, sounds of animals and ice.

Accompanying catalog

Frankfurt und der Nordpol. Forscher und Entdecker im ewigen Eis.
Von Frank Berger (Hg.). Frankfurt 2007, Schriften des Historischen Museums, Bd. 26. 26,50 €

A change of perspective. Frankfurter Frauenzimmer around 1800


Innovative, entrepreneurial, creative and feisty – Frankfurt women around 1800 were remarkably active and ambitious. The reason for this exhibition was to commemorate them and to anchor them in the collective memory of the city's society.

The exhibition focused on an epoch that, more than almost any other, presents such a wide variety of female lifestyles. That is why it is also called the "Century of Women". Few other German cities could immediately come up with as many well-known women of the 1th century as Frankfurt. But the exhibition also presents women who have rarely been brought to light. They were all remarkably active and ambitious in their respective contexts of work and life. The change of perspective from the male to the female half of Frankfurt's bourgeoisie leads to the convincing insight that a city did not "function" without women even before the dawn of modernity.
Women artists and writers, collectors and philanthropists, master craftswomen and merchants worked in the family circle and asserted their economic existence against male competition. Frankfurt women bore social responsibility and were active in the public life of the city. The motives for this exhibition were to report on their living conditions, to trace their footsteps and to reintroduce their achievements into the cultural memory of this city.
The presentation also explored the question of what was visible or invisible in the social, economic and cultural practices of women merchants, craftswomen or servants, thus opening up surprising perspectives and insights into hitherto hidden scopes of action.
The exhibition, accompanying volume, media stations and an extensive accompanying program were supported by the Women's Department of the City of Frankfurt, the Cronstett- and Hynsperg Evangelical Foundation, the Polytechnic Society Foundation, the Ernst Max von Grunelius Foundation, and the Historical-Archaeological Society.

A website was created for the exhibition, which is still being expanded by the scientist Ursula Kern. She is the curator of the exhibition and has continued her intensive research work after retiring from active service at the HMF. You can get to the website with a klick here: www.frankfurterfrauenzimmer.de