Due to renovation work the museum is currently closed. Experience the reopening in spring 2022! The MGGU welcomes its visitors with the first retrospective of the two Frankfurt photographers Nini and Carry Hess.
The retrospective at the Museum Giersch der Goethe-Universität introduces two outstanding Frankfurt artists of the Weimar Republic—the photographers Nini (1884–1943?) and Carry Hess (1889–1957). Featuring some 120 original photographs supplemented by various archive material, it is the first to provide an exhibition of the biography and work of the two sisters whose lives and careers were destroyed by the National Socialists on account of their Jewish descent.
The Hess sisters founded their photo studio in Frankfurt’s Börsenstrasse in 1913. Specializing in portrait, theatre, and dance photography, the studio rapidly advanced to become one of the most highly regarded of its kind in Germany. Celebrities and stars of the stage, among them Max Beckmann, Tilla Durieux, Thomas Mann, Mary Wigman, and many others, had their portraits taken by Nini and Carry Hess. On commission from the City of Frankfurt, the two sisters also carried out many scene and role portraits documenting the innovative stage productions of those years. They were moreover active in the pictorial media, regularly supplying images in such genres as nude, fashion, and architecture photography for leading magazines as well as for numerous books.
The portraits by Nini and Carry Hess are captivating by virtue of their psychological sensitivity and accordingly bear an affinity to the pictorial language of ‘New Vision’. Within that context, the sisters had an especially insightful eye for the ‘New Woman’. Their portrayals of women attracted interest far and wide—and today testify to this aspect of their work.
During the November Pogroms of 1938, the Hess studio was completely destroyed. The exhibition and catalogue are the first to undertake a comprehensive reconstruction of the oeuvre of Nini and Carry Hess. Based on many years of research devoted to bringing together the extant original photographs, this endeavour provides the foundation for a rediscovery of the Hess sisters’ imposing lifework. The exhibition thus sheds light on an important chapter in the history of photography while also offering fascinating insights into Frankfurt’s 1920s cultural life.
|Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun||10 am – 6 pm|
|Thu||10 am – 9 pm|
|Holders of the Frankfurt-Card||2,50 €|
|Holders of the Kulturpass||1 €|
Tram 12 / 15 / 16 / 17 21
Underground U1 / U2 / U3 / U8
to Schweizer Platz
15 minutes‘ walk from Frankfurt main station
Walter-Kolb-Straße 16 (Alt-Sachsenhausen)
Willy-Brandt-Platz 5 (Schauspiel Frankfurt)
Untermainanlage 1 (Untermainanlage)
For visitors with limited mobility and visitors with prams or pushchairs, the Museum Giersch of Goethe University is accessible by way of a lift. The lift is located on the east side of the building, behind the entrance stairs. We recommend for an accompanying person to contact our colleagues at the information desk in the museum for support. Wheelchair-accessible restrooms are located in the basement.
Folding stools can be borrowed for your visit on the first floor next to the entrance of the exhibition.
The Museum Giersch of Goethe University is an exhibition center for art, culture, and science. Since its founding by the Giersch Foundation in the year 2000, its focus has been geographical on the Rhine-Main region. Within this parameter, the museum devotes itself to the discovery, study, and communication of hitherto little-noticed artistic oeuvres and cultural phenomena of all epochs to the very present.
The museum has belonged to the Goethe University since 2015. This affiliation has broadened its exhibition spectrum to include themes from the research and teaching pursued at the university. The museum moreover frequently cooperates with the institutes, scientists, teachers, and students as well as the collections of the Goethe University. As ‘the university’s window on the city’ it promotes the communication between art, science, and the public and, with its wide range of educational and communication activities, contributes to societal discourse as a whole.
The Museum Giersch of Goethe University is located in a villa on the Sachsenhausen bank of the River Main. The three-story Neoclassicist-style mansion was built for the Holzmanns, a construction contractors’ family of Frankfurt, in 1910.
The Giersch Foundation purchased the building from the City of Frankfurt in 1998. In keeping with the rigorous requirements for the preservation of historical monuments, the new owners immediately set about having it altered to serve as an exhibition gallery, complete with barrier-free access and state-of-the-art air-quality-control and security standards. The gallery opened to the public in 2000. With their original wood panelling, the rooms on the ground floor still convey an impression of the villa’s onetime domestic character. The exhibition rooms on the upper floors, for their part, are modern in look and feel. Thanks to their compartmentalized structure, they are well-suited to accommodate the needs of the changing exhibitions.
In the villa’s garden, the Giersch Foundation had a duck fountain built with original bronze figures by the sculpture August Gaul. The design is modelled on that of a fountain in Berlin of the year 1911.
In 2020/21, the Giersch Foundation and the Goethe University had the building’s air-quality-control, security, and fire-prevention systems thoroughly overhauled. The lighting in the exhibition rooms was moreover converted for the use of energy-efficient LED spotlights.
On 24 September 2000, the non-profit Giersch Foundation opened its new exhibition center, the Haus Giersch—Museum Regionaler Kunst. The initiative for the founding had come from Honorary Senator Prof. Carlo Giersch and his wife, Honorary Senator Karin Giersch. Their aim was to create a public exhibition gallery for the presentation of hitherto unresearched facets of the history of Rhine-Main art and culture that would be of interest beyond regional boundaries.
The programme initially concentrated on surveys and monographic exhibitions of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century painting of the Rhine-Main region. Over the years, the spectrum of topics gradually broadened to encompass other artistic mediums such as sculpture, photography, graphic arts, and book art. The temporal focus widened as well and meanwhile extends from the Early Modern period to the present. A special focus of the gallery’s activities was and is the presentation and communication of its research results in accompanying catalogues and museum education work. The Museum Giersch has thus carved out a firm place for itself within the city’s wide array of museums.
In 2014, the year marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Goethe University, the Giersch Foundation turned the exhibition center’s operation over to the university. Since 2015, it has been known as the Museum Giersch of Goethe University. As before, it is devoted to the art and culture of the Rhine-Main region and now also presents exhibitions related specifically to the past and present of the Goethe University and its collections. It moreover serves as an event venue and place of encounter for the university community.