The Staedel Museum Adds a Contemporary Wing


With the stability of the Euro still up in the air, the residents of Germany’s financial capital turned their attention to the arts last week. Frankfurt’s historic Städel Museum opened a new wing showing 330 works from their contemporary art collection.

The 32,000-square-foot underground extension was designed by Frankfurt-based firm schneider+schumacher, which won a 2007 competition. In daylight, 195 spherical skylights illuminate the subterranean exhibition space. Seen from outside, the skylights dot the lawn, creating portholes into the galleries below.

Descending the museum’s grand staircase into the white-walled gallery, it’s immediately clear how fluid the Städel’s definition of contemporary art is. A Hans Arp bronze The Shell of Venus (1958) sits adjacent to three Olafur Eliasson’s The Colour Circle Series, Part 3, The white colour circle, The grey colour circle and The black colour circle (2008–09), connecting artworks 70 years apart.

Curator Martin Engler told A.i.A., “To us, contemporary art is any art done after 1945.” The galleries emphasize German artists, including Christoph Borowiak, Imi Knoebel and Jörg Immendorff.

The opening of the new galleries follows an ambitious fundraising campaign spearheaded by the Städel’s Director Max Hollein. 50 percent of the project’s $45 million price tag came from public subsidies. The new Städel will solidify Frankfurt’s reputation as an art destination for international visitors.

“That is one of the reasons the project went so smoothly and so fast. It was something for the city itself but also for the reputation of the city,” Engler said.