Longer travels want to be prepared – this also applies to the journey through history you can make thanks to the “Time Machine. The Städel Museum in the Nineteenth Century”.

The idea for this presentation, which was preceded by a multi-year research project at the Städel Museum and the Städel Cooperation Professorship at the Goethe University Frankfurt, arose from Jochen Sander’s many years of experience as an editor and author of the scholarly catalogues of the Städel Museum’s collection of Old Master paintings. Much of the information used to reconstruct the changing presentations of the Städel Museum’s collection, over the course of the nineteenth century, and at three different locations, was discovered over the years as a by-product of research on the paintings. The fact that these findings are now at the centre of a research project on the historical presentation of the Städel Museum’s collection, following new research questions and presented in this innovative manner, is above all due to two new developments of the last decade: on the one hand, the rapid development in digital 3D technology and, on the other, the increasing interest in art historical research concerning the history of collecting and presentation of both private and public collections. Both developments have now been proven highly fruitful with regard to one of the oldest and most important civic museum collections in Germany – the Städel in Frankfurt.

As “expedition leader” of the “Time Machine. The Städel Museum in the Nineteenth Century”, I first of all wish to thank Almut Pollmer-Schmidt, who as a scholarly assistant was very much in charge of the coordination and final editing of the overall project, and who also wrote most of the explanatory texts on the three museum locations and the respective collection presentations. Yannic Jäckel created the 3D models for the years 1816, 1833, and 1878, virtually reviving the historical Städel Museum three times. With regard to the substantive parts of these reconstructions, Almut Pollmer-Schmidt provided him essential support, while both were partially able to refer to preliminary work by Corina Meyer, Maité Schenten, Peter Puzzo, and Albrecht Sensch.

Maité Schenten additionally did important preparatory work with her master’s thesis “Wandel und Konstanz: die historischen Hängungen im Städel Museum als Spiegel neuer Museumskonzeptionen im 19. Jahrhundert”, written in 2013 at the Goethe University Frankfurt (Städel Cooperation Professorship).

Corina Meyer’s intensive evaluation of the Städel’s archive for her dissertation “Die Geburt des bürgerlichen Kunstmuseums – Johann Friedrich Städel und sein Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt am Main”, published in 2013, provided substantial new insights into Städel’s house and collection, which were partially modified and specified in the context of the present research project.

In preparing the explanatory texts for the three museum locations, Almut Pollmer-Schmidt was supported by Corina Meyer and Silke Janßen. Jasmin Sargin and Jannik Konle took care of the image editing. Over the years, a number of student assistants and interns have collaborated on this project in numerous ways: Corinna Gannon, Francesca Helfenbein, Jannik Konle, Adela Kutschke, Katharina Rotté, Jasmin Sargin, Kerstin Schäffer and Maité Schenten.

In one way or another, Daniela Bamberger, Jan Bielau, Vinzenz Brinkmann, Annett Gerlach, Julia Hammer, Sebastian Heine, Silke Janßen, Michael Mohr, Stefan Roller, and Jutta Schütt supported the project at the Städel Museum as well. Albrecht Sensch and Jakob Schwerdtfeger have to be thanked for the coordination of the digital infrastructure – right down to the app, which has transformed the reconstruction of the Schaumainkai building of 1878 into virtual reality.

We are indebted to Director Jan Gerchow and his team for providing image material of the works that are today at the Historisches Museum Frankfurt. For providing additional important information, we also have to thank our colleague Wolfgang Cillessen.

The research project “Time Machine. The Städel Museum in the Nineteenth Century” is supported by the Stiftung Polytechnische Gesellschaft Frankfurt am Main. The VR implementation was made possible by Samsung Electronics, corporate partner of the Städel Museum, and was implemented with great commitment by NMY Mixed-Reality Communication.

Finally, the “Time Machine” owes its appealing appearance to the exemplary effort of Zum Kuckuck, design studio for digital media.

After the original, German version of the “Time Machine. The Städel Museum in the Nineteenth Century” was launched in the summer of 2016, requests for an English version quickly followed. Thanks to the generous support of the Christa Verhein Stiftung, this was made possible in the summer of 2019. For this, I would like to specifically thank Jens-Peter Schaefer.

The website was translated into English by Erik Eising. At the same time, this project provided the opportunity to correct small errors in the German version, as well as add additional information acquired since 2016, for example with regard to matters of provenance. For this, Almut Pollmer-Schmidt was once again responsible. She was supported by Leslie Zimmermann. The technical realisation of the English version was supported by Freya Schlingmann and Ulrike Fladerer at the Städel Museum, and implemented by Zum Kuckuck, design studio for digital media.

To all those involved, I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks!

Prof. Dr. Jochen Sander
Deputy Director of the Städel Museum