Our main building is the museum’s first exhibit. This historical building once belonged to Baron Mayer Carl von Rothschild. Later it housed a public library. Since 1988 it has been home to the Jewish Museum.
In 1820/21, municipal architect Friedrich Christian Hess designed this and the neighboring building in the classicist style, based on classical antiquity. Today the two buildings are linked and as of 2020 will house the new permanent exhibition.
Simon Moritz von Bethmann, from an important Frankfurt family of councillors and bankers, bought the house at Untermainkai 14. The neighboring building, later called the Rothschild Palais, was built for the banker Joseph Isaak Speyer, who belonged to a large and respected family who had lived in the Judengasse since the 17th century.
Home of the Rothschilds
In 1846 Baron Mayer Carl von Rothschild bought house number 15 and substantially had it refurbished and extended by the architect Friedrich Rumpf, thus giving it its current appearance.
Some of the historical rooms from that era have been preserved. These include the staircase with mirrors and colorful marble paneling in the Renaissance style and three prestigious salons with their original features. Baron Mayer Carl exhibited parts of his legendary gold collection here. From the autumn 2020, these rooms can be viewed as part of the new permanent exhibition.
View into the wainscoted historical smoking room of the Rothschild Palais, designed in the style of Louis XIV. with channeled columns, mirrors and gilded pan ceiling.
The smoking room in the Rothschild Palais in 1860, with furniture from the former Peace Room (Friedenszimmer) of the hotel "Zum Schwan" on Steinweg in Frankfurt.
View into the historical staircase, decorated with mirrors and marble scaling in neo-Renaissance style. The stairs lead down to the prestigious parlors.
The music salon in the style of Louis XV is decorated in white and gold. The historical decorations will be renovated prior ro the reopening of our museum in the autumn 2020.
Starting in 1895, a public library ("Freiherrlich Carl von Rothschild'sche öffentliche Bibliothek") was located in the Rothschild Palais. Pictured here is the main reading room around 1890.
Baronial Carl von Rothschild Public Library
After the death of Baron von Rothschild, the public library called "Freiherrlich Carl von Rothschild'sche öffentliche Bibliothek" was moved into the Palais in 1895. Mayer Carl’s daughter Hannah Louise von Rothschild (1850–1892) had already inaugurated the library at Bethmannstraße 1 in 1887. After her death, the library was made into a foundation and in 1905 extended to include the neighbouring building. When the inflation following World War I devalued the foundation’s assets, the city took over the library. From 1933 onwards, the National Socialists erased the memory of all Jewish donors and renamed the library "Bibliothek für neuere Sprachen und Musik" (Library for Modern Languages and Music). The Palais survived World War II undamaged, unlike many other buildings in Frankfurt.
After the Second World War
After 1945, the library in the Rothschild Palais became part of the Municipal and University Library and the Palais itself the head office of the library administration. Later the building was used as a branch of the History Museum. After the decree of the City Council Assembly of 1980 to re-establish a Jewish Museum in Frankfurt, both buildings were refurbished and converted by the architects Ante Josip von Kostelac. Whereas house no. 15, with the historical rooms, has been largely preserved, the neighboring building was given a completely new interior design.
In October 2020 we will reopen our new permanent exhibition here which highlights Jewish history in Frankfurtfrom 1800 until today.
The Rothschild Palais during its refurbishment in 1985, before it became the main location of the Jewish Museum.
In 1979, a plan was drawn up to once again establish a Jewish Museum in Frankfurt . The historical Rothschild Palais on Untermainkai along with its neighboring building, came under consideration. A sign in front of the building provided information about the project.
In 1979, a plan was drawn up toonce again establish a Jewish Museum in Frankfurt again. The historical Rothschild Palais on Untermainkai along with its neighboring building, came under consideration. A sign in front of the building provided information about the project.
The Rothschild Palais on the bank of the Main River.
Visualization of the future museum complex with the Rothschild Palais to the right and the extension building by Staab Architekten to the left.