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What You Will Discover at the Deutsches Filmmuseum

Exterior of the Frankfurt Deutsches Filmmuseum

If you love movies, I have a museum for you. I had initially put off seeing the Deutsches Filmmuseum because I had the preconceived notion that I should be a film buff to appreciate it, but I was so wrong. This museum is actually a behind the scenes look at how movies are made, and explains the technological advances that culminated in the invention of film, from wooden peep show boxes to photograhy.

The museum is very modern, has interactive stations throughout to help explain the concepts, and there’s English translations on almost all of the signage. Don’t have all day? Even better, because you can easily make it through the entire permanent collection in a morning.

Exploring the Pre-history of Film & Cinema at the Frankfurt Deutsches Filmmuseum

Filmic Vision | 1st Floor
The first floor was historically-focused on the 16th-19th centuries, and explained various inventions and precursory technology that made the invention of film possible. The Deutsches Filmmuseum really excels at explaining how the antiquated apparatuses worked, and contextualized why it inspired further curiosity and invention. You're able to experience firsthand many of the historic gadgets on display. For example the museum sets up the (pictured below) peep show exhibit so you can understand how it works by viewing the layout of the interior of the box, as well as look through the viewing hole as intended.

Frankfurt Deutsches Filmmuseum Exhibit on Historic Peep Shows

Exhibit showing an 1868-1869 Cylinder Anamorphosis at the Frankfurt Deutsches Filmmuseum

The floor ends triumphantly with introducing projection technology in a complete theater room showing black and white silent film.

Filmic Narrative | 2nd Floor
Up the stairs, the exhibits move into present day breaking down the elements of a movie; acting, sound, images, and editing.

Green Screen Fun on the 2nd floor of the Frankfurt Deustches Filmmuseum

The interactive station fun continues with a gigantic green screen that you can experience, and a mood lighting lab where you can recreate historic lighting setups from classic scenes using yourself as the subject.

Mood Lighting Interactive Station at the Frankfurt Deutsches Filmmuseum

Sprinkled throughout this floor are movie props, scripts, and storyboards from iconic movies that will give you goosebumps. The collection even has a Darth Vader helmet used in the original Star Wars trilogy!

Animation Cells, Movie Props, Costume Design and More Exhibited at the Frankfurt Deutsches Filmmuseum

Film Room Exhibit at the Frankfurt Deutsches Filmmuseum

In the editing exhibit I was amazed to see a half painting, where the top was a hilly landscape painting, and the bottom half was just black...because that’s where they edited in real film footage of a boat on the water!

For a finale, four projection screens were assembled forming a U-shape with four different movies playing at the same time that all had similar visual elements together, like all chasing scenes, all walking scenes, all green monsters, but only one movie soundtrack playing.

Be sure to check out the current temporary exhibit. When I visited they had a Shaun the Sheep exhibit that included the real claymation sculptures and sets.

Exterior of the Frankfurt am Main Deutsches Filmmuseum

Planning your Trip to the Deutsches Filmmuseum
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Wednesday the museum stays open for 2 additional hours, closing at 8:00 p.m. Tickets start at 6 Euros with some discounts available. Click here for more information.

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What You Must See at the Frankfurt Goethe Museum

In the adjoining building to the Goethe House, and up the stairs, squirreled away in fourteen jewel-tone rooms are paintings, busts, and ephemera from the time of Goethe, revealing his colleagues, friends, adversaries, and rulers. What a genius lens to view a person’s life! If you take the necessary time, no more than an hour, to visit the galleries, you’ll see the painting styles change as Goethe witnessed them.

Goethe’s lifetime saw late Baroque, Rococo, Enlightenment and Sensibility, literary Storm and Stress movement, Weimar Classicism, and Romanticism. There are examples of all these movements in one place. It’s impressive the wealth of the experience in such a small collection. One of the most important Fuseli collections in Europe, a trail blazing German woman artist whose story is nearly impossible to find, and THREE Caspar David Friedrich’s landscapes in one small room.

The German painter Caroline Bardua...who was she? Her three portraits of the Von Arnim sisters hang in Room 11 of the Frankfurt Goethe Museum

The adjoining Frankfurt Goethe Museum is a graphic arts collection, library and a manuscript archive. While the nonprofit group Freies Deutsches Hochstift furnished and opened the Goethe House in 1863, the complementing Goethe Museum opened 34 years later in 1897.

Remember that beefy, 22-page English brochure in the gift shop for 1.50 Euros? You’ll be so glad you bought it. It provides the overview of each of the 14 gallery room themes and explains the relationships Goethe had with the subjects for a majority of the works on display. I’m only going to focus on three rooms, and I’ll elaborate on what you’ll find in the brochure.

The painting Mad Kate by Henry Fuseli on display at the Frankfurt Goethe Museum represents the Sturm und Drang movement

The Sturm und Drang Movement Visualized
Room 3 | Johann Heinrich Füssli: New Paths in Historical Painting

(German birthname: Johann Heinrich Füssli) Henry Fuseli's paintings were a revolutionary thrill to behold during Goethe’s lifetime. A great example of being at the right place at the right time, when writers, including Goethe, and musicians were rebelling against the Enlightenment ideals and exploring human nature and emotions, cue Fuseli with his dramatic, emotional paintings bringing to life Shakespeare’s plays and supernatural forces. His explosive depictions resonated with what others were reading and composing. He is most famous for his renditions of ‘The Nightmare.’ The first version (1781) was so impactful he made several variations of the work, and the Frankfurt Goethe Museum collection has the 1790-1791 variation.

Henry Fuseli's The Nightmare painting was so popular he did several variations. The Frankfurt Goethe Museum has the 1790-1791 variation.

Who Was Painter Caroline Bardua?
Room 11 | Clemens Brentano, Bettine and Achim von Arnim

I was delighted to see in Room 11 a triplet of stunning portraits of ladies that was painted by a female artist I’ve never heard of. Her name is Caroline Bardua. Unfortunately the accompanying text was in German and only had the names of the subjects, dates, materials, artists, the basics.

Portrait painting of Maximiliane Von Arnim by German Painter Caroline Bardua at the Frankfurt Goethe Museum

Far left, Maximiliane von Arnim, the oldest daughter of the Bettine and Achim von Arnim.

Portrait painting of Armgart Von Arnim by German Painter Caroline Bardua at the Frankfurt Goethe Museum

In the middle is her younger sister Armgart von Arnim, and on the far right is the youngest Gisela von Arnim. Gisela later married the son of Wilhelm Grimm, and became famous for her own fairy tales. The sisters had their own literary salon, Kaffeter Kreis, Maximiliane was the President. Caroline Bardua painted the three sisters’ portraits in 1845.

Portrait painting of Gisela Von Arnim by German Painter Caroline Bardua at the Frankfurt Goethe Museum

A basic google search on Caroline Bardua brings up tidbits; she was a middle-class female artist who supported herself, and sometimes her sister too, with her art! Very rare, and very hard to do! So many webpages were quick to point this out, but I couldn’t get much farther than that.

Finally a breakthrough thanks to Google Books search, I found a well-sourced biographical entry on Caroline Bardua. She sounds like such a cool, brave, independent lady, and Goethe helped her career. There’s no mention of this in the Museum, and there really should be! Goethe’s recommendation helped her get into the Weimar Academy where she studied for three years under Johann Heinrich Meyer. Then, Goethe gave her a letter of recommendation to study under portrait painter Gerhard von Kügelgen. She lived to be 83 years old and was a lifelong, self-supported painter. If you’d like to read more about her, she’s on page 209-2012 in the Dictionary of Women Artists: Artists, A-J.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Caspar David Friedrich
Room 12 | Romantic Landscapes

If you’re a Caspar David Friedrich fan, then you’ll be tempted to skip straight to Room 12. I don’t blame you.

The Evening Star by Caspar David Friedrich, on display in the Frankfurt Goethe Museum

The Frankfurt Goethe Museum has three similarly-sized landscapes by Friedrich, The Evening Star, Swans in the Reeds, and Willow Bushes in the Setting Sun. There’s debate as to whether Goethe was a fan of Friedrich’s, but does it really matter? The brochure points out that Goethe’s feelings were ambiguous. However, it was thanks to an early career competition prize Friedrich won, which Goethe was a juror, that legitimized Friedrich as an artist. History can’t have one without the other. I’m disappointed in how my cellphone shots turned out, and then the public domain ones I found aren’t any better. You really just need to see them in person, they’re stunning. It’s challenging with such high contrast paintings with a lot of dark areas to see the detail in reproduction. However, in person, every brush stroke is delicate, and looking at any one of these pieces is to be transported into the scene, emotions in your throat, classic Friedrich.

Have you been next door to the Goethe House, where Goethe was born? We'll fill you in on the highlights, just click here.

Where? When? How Much?
You can reach the Frankfurter Goethe House and Museum by all subways and interurban trains stopping at ‘Hauptwache’ within five to ten minutes walk. Car parks are located in the immediate surroundings. The address is Frankfurter Goethe-Haus / Freies Deutsches Hochstift, Großer Hirschgraben 23-25, 60311 Frankfurt am Main.
Typical hours for the Goethe House and Museum are Monday through Saturday, 10am-6pm, and Sunday from 10am-5:30pm. Admission is 7 Euros. Check the official site for available discounts and group prices.

Swans in the Reeds by Caspar David Friedrich, on display in the Frankfurt Goethe Museum

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Willow Bush in the Setting Sun by Caspar David Friedrich, on display in the Frankfurt Goethe Museum
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Ultimate Cheat Sheet to the Goethe House in Frankfurt

The windows are wide open in the birthplace of Frankfurt am Main’s favorite son, Johann Wolfgang Goethe. A cool breeze shimmies its way in, stirring up historical smells. You only hear the sound of the wooden floorboards creaking under your feet and in neighboring rooms, and further away a student tour group is laughing. Ongoing construction site white noise from next door, the soon to be German Romantic Museum, foretells of historical fun to come in 2019.

Why Do You Need a Cheat Sheet to Visit?
There are very few descriptive signs hanging because the nonprofit group, which oversees the Goethe House and Museum, Freies Deutsches Hochstift wants to keep the presence of the house as authentic as possible. This means you need to either do some homework before visiting, succumb to an audio tour for 3 Euros extra, or, split the difference and get the beefier English brochure for 1.50 Euros and use that as your tour guide. Currently there’s only German tours on weekends, and no English tours at all.

My American education only mentioned Goethe in passing, and I imagine many others will relate. It seemed as though our English teachers had a hard enough time teaching us Canterbury’s Tales, Beowulf, and Shakespeare’s countless plays, they didn’t quite make it to Goethe’s oeuvre.

I’ve gathered together and simplified what you need to know in order to get the most out of your visit, but I do recommend buying the beefier English brochure. It is well produced and designed, as well as easy to pack and a great souvenir. The brochure goes room by room and discusses more highlights and goes into further detail.

Family is What Makes This House a Home
Johann Wolfgang Goethe and his sister Cornelia grew up in the top tier of Frankfurt’s society. They both received excellent, private educations. It was expected that Goethe would be a lawyer like his father before him. He went as far as finishing law school and opening a private practice when his literary career made him a celebrity.

Top 10 Historical Events You Need to Know About the Goethe House
1. Sold | Goethe’s grandmother on his father’s side (Cornelia Goethe), bought the property in 1733
2. Birth | Johann Wolfgang Goethe was born August 28, 1749
3. Birth | Goethe’s beloved sister Cornelia Goethe was born 1750
4. Renovation | Goethe’s father (Johann Caspar Goethe) renovated and combined two half-timbered houses into one spacious, Rococo-style home from 1755-1756.
5. French Occupation | Royal Lieutenant François Théas de Thoranc occupied the house from 1759 until 1761 during the French occupation of the Seven Years’ War, and had local artists visit to paint for him. As a result, Goethe watched Johann Georg Trautmann work on his Joseph Cycle paintings.
6. Writing | Goethe wrote “Goetz of Berlichingen” in 1773 and “The Sorrows of Young Werther” in 1774
7. Sold | Goethe’s mother sold the house, furniture, and her husband’s collections in 1795.
8. Sold | The house was acquired in 1863 by the Freies Deutsches Hochstift, “A Society Devoted to the Liberal Arts.” They began reassembling and recreating the home’s original furnishings.
9. Bombing | After the 1944 bombing raid, the house and Goethe Museum was completely destroyed. Furnishings and objects had previously been evacuated and were saved.
10. Rebuilt | Meticulous reconstruction from 1947-1951 led to the house and museum being reopened in 1954.

Must-See Highlights of the Goethe House By Floor
Ground Floor Highlights
1. Kitchen |The house still has it's original water pump linked to a well in the cellar, pure luxury in a time most households depended on a public well!

Goethe House in Frankfurt still has its original water pump linked to a well in the cellar

2. Staircase | The first four sandstone steps of the staircase on the ground floor are original, (survived the 1944 bombing.) The massive staircase and spacious landings were part of Goethe’s father’s renovation. Look for his parents’ initials in the ironwork of the railing on the first floor.
3. Blue Room | The framed oilcloth wallpaper hanging on the wall is from the house before the renovation, and allegedly acted as a tarp over the kids’ beds in the attic during the construction work.

The framed oilcloth wallpaper hanging on the wall is from the house before the renovation | Goethe House Frankfurt

First Floor Highlights
1. Peking Room, also called Red Room | Behold the fabulous loud wallpapers with flowers and animals that imitate Chinese and East Asian styles!

Peking Room has fabulous loud wallpapers that imitate Chinese and East Asian styles| Goethe House FrankfurtI love the room heater/fireplace in the Peking room | Goethe House Frankfurt

2. The Northern Wing Cabinet | There’s a portrait of the French Lieutenant Thoranc who occupied the first floor of the house from 1759 until 1761 during the French occupation of the Seven Years’ War.
3. Grey/Music Room | The Goethe family group of four was very close, and music was very important to them. Cornelia (sister) was excellent on the piano, the father played the lute, Goethe played the cello, and the mother sang. Above the red, upright pianoforte is a portrait of the Goethe family by Johann Conrad Seekatz. The five cherubs in the background symbolize the parents’ five other children who died very young.

Portrait of the Goethe family by Johann Conrad Seekatz hangs above the red pianoforte in the Grey Music Room | Goethe House Frankfurt | Room Photo of Pianoforte by Flickr User Soohyang.Song

Second Floor Highlights
1. Goethe’s Father’s Library | These books are scandalized by the idea of ebooks, and suspicious as to why they’re behind glass, lonely, and locked up!

Goethe's Father's Library is scandalized by the idea of ebooks, and suspicious as to why they're locked up! | Goethe House Frankfurt

2. Cabinet of Paintings | Goethe loved art and especially the Dutch traditional style. He kept his art collecting local, and supported Frankfurt masters, Trautmann, Schütz the Elder, Juncker, Hirt, Nothnagel, and Morgenstern, as well as Darmstadt court painter, Seekatz.

Goethe loved art and especially the Dutch traditional style. He collected local Frankfurt & Darmstadt painters and displayed them in the picture room | Goethe House Frankfurt

3. Astronomical Clock | Not original to the house, it was in Privy Council Wilhelm Friedrich Hüsgen’s home, where Goethe admired it when he was young. There is a dancing bear in the lower peephole that acts as a signal for winding up the clock. It was built in 1746.

Third Floor Highlights
1. Poet’s Room | Here, with it's original standing desk and a writing desk, is where Goethe wrote his early works.

Poet's Room with the original standing desk. Here is where Goethe wrote his early works | Goethe House Frankfurt

2. Puppet Theater | Goethe’s puppet theater he received when he was 4 years old, yes really! It’s survived. Worth climbing all those stairs? You bet.

Goethe received this puppet theater when he was four! | Goethe House Frankfurt

3. Western Attic Room | When the French Lieutenant Thoranc who occupied the house from 1759 until 1761 during the French occupation of the Seven Years’ War, he had many Frankfurt artists to visit and work in this room. Goethe watched Johann Georg Trautmann create his Joseph painting series in this room. They’ve since been returned from Thoranc’s estate to be displayed where they were created!

Johann Georg Trautmann created his Joseph painting series in this room, and now here it is displayed again | Goethe House Frankfurt

But wait! There’s more! Here's what to expect at the adjoining Goethe Museum.

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Fun Discoveries at the Technik Museum in Speyer

Being afraid of heights is not very helpful when you try to climb into a Boeing 747 airplane mounted on a 65 foot high pedestal. It gets even worse, when the plane is slightly tilted to the right at the rear, forcing you to bend to the left walking forward. It takes a while to get used to this feeling, but I am glad I overcame my fear of heights, since this Lufthansa plane was one of the highlights for me at the Technik Museum in Speyer.

Technik Museum in Speyer has a Fully Accessible Jumbo Boeing 747 Aviation Exhibit

Besides the Boeing airplane, here are some other key figures why a visit to this museum is a must, when you are near Speyer:

  • More than 250,000 sq ft of indoor and over 1,000,000 sq ft of outdoor space
  • Over 70 aircraft and helicopters, 10 of which are accessible
  • 40 historic fire engines
  • 20 locomotives
  • A giant slide from the airplanes back down to the ground
  • A walk-on Antonov An-22, one of the largest propeller planes in the world
  • A walk-in German submarine, the U-9, from 1967
  • Mechanical music instruments, uniforms, ship models, dolls and historical costumes

We arrived by car and saw the large, stationary airplane from the nearby interstate already. Even without a navigation system, you will not be able to miss this museum. The museum has a very large parking lot, which leads you right to the entrance. The entrance fee was 16 Euros per person, which is certainly at the high-price end for a museum, but totally worth it.

Liller Halle Technik Museum in Speyer

Functioning Carousel from 1850s
Once you scan your ticket, you enter a huge hall called “Liller Halle”, a factory building from 1913. Looking around you are surrounded by motorcycles, cars, fire engines, planes and in the center you will find a large carousel. Drop in a two Euro coin, wait 30 seconds for the warmup and the carousel lights up and plays a song on the organ while turning. Impressive how tall it is and how fast it turns. It was used until 2002 and is over 150 years old, but in pristine condition. You could set it in the middle of any fair right now and would make money hand over foot.

Technik Museum in Speyer has a functioning two-story carousel from the 1850s

Boeing 747
Step outside and you walk towards a large steel scaffold leading up to the Boeing 747 airplane. Even if you are afraid of heights, this is an absolute must to check out. To this day, the Boeing 747 is the only aircraft of this kind which was dismantled and then transported to a place outside from an airport to be reassembled again. Inside you can even access the cargo space and stand on the left wing of the plane. I opted not to do that, since I felt that being up there and walking through the tilted plane was enough excitement for me. Before you head up to the plane, make sure to grab one of the carpets downstairs, which you can use to slide down the chute instead of walking back down again.

BURAN Orbiter
After getting a feel for heights, you enter the space hall with another highlight, the BURAN orbiter, which was the Russian counterpart of the NASA Space Shuttle. Outside of Russia and the United States, the BURAN in Speyer is the only space shuttle which can be visited in a museum. The BURAN was built in 1984 and was used to test gliding and landing after re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. The shown model has completed 25 atmospheric flights and does look a bit damaged and worn.

Just around the corner of the Boeing 747 is an Antonov AN-22, the largest propeller driven aircraft. Mounted much lower to the ground, it gives you a great impression of the size of the cargo bay. Small screens and mounted text panels give you more information what all this plane can load and transport. The AN-22 was designed as a civilian and military transport aircraft that could carry loads of up to 100 tons even in rough regions without a fixed runway. This plane could hold three fully loaded gravel trucks and take off without a problem.

The Technik Museum in Speyer, Germany has a massive Space Exhibition Hall that includes an original space shuttle, BURAN

Rescue Ship Essberger
We ended our visit by climbing onto the rescue ship “John T. Essberger” of the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service. It was built in 1975 and has three engines with a combined power of 7200 hp for a top speed of almost 30 miles per hour. You can walk around the whole outside of the ship and also see many interior rooms including hospital rooms and private quarters. In case of a rescue this ship could have taken on up to 300 shipwrecked passengers in addition to the crew of 13.

Climb aboard the rescue ship 'John T. Essberger' at the Technik Museum in Speyer, Germany

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In the huge hall called “Liller Halle”, a factory building from 1913, you'll discover trains, planes, cars, carousels, and more.



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Thank you For Reading! Denise & Sebastian | Photo by Irene Fiedler