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Quick Trips: Mind and body buffet: Frankfurt's riverbank awash in food, fine art

By MICHAEL ABRAMS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 29, 2005

Looking for something to feed both your intellect and stomach? Try the museums of Frankfurt, Germany.

While there are museums spread throughout the city, many line the Main River like a string of pearls. The greatest concentration is on the south bank, where there are so many that the area is called the Museumsufer, or “museum embankment.”

The nice thing about the museums is that their subjects are so varied that going from one to another does not get boring. And if you do get bored, there is another activity — cafe-hopping, since many museums have cafes as well.

There are eight museums on Schaumainkai, the street that runs along the river, between the Holbeinsteg and the Eiserne Steg, the two pedestrian bridges spanning the Main. They are: the Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Applied Arts Museum); Museum der Weltkulturen (World Cultures Museum); Deutsches Filmmuseum (German Film Museum); Deutsches Architektur Museum (German Architect Museum); Museum fur Kommunikation (Communication Museum); Städelsches Kunstinstitut (Städel Art Institute); Liebighaus-Museum alter Plastic (Sculpture Museum); and the Haus Giersch (Regional Art Museum).

It would be hard to hit them all, so it is a pick-and-choose sort of thing. Here are some choices:

The Städel is the best known of the museums, with its collection of art from the 14th century to the present. Works by Dürer, Cranach, Holbein, Botticelli, Renoir, Monet, Beckmann, Rodin and Picasso are on display here.

The Holbein cafe-restaurant adjacent to the museum is a bistro in the afternoons, with fine dining for dinner.

The small cafe in the communication museum, on the other hand, bills itself as an “American Cafe.” It has brownies and chocolate chip cookies to go with your coffee, and offers salads, hot dogs and sandwiches, as well. It overlooks the museum’s main display area in the basement.

This was once the Postmuseum, so many displays deal with the German post office and telephone system. Descriptions of most are in German, but folders describing the the displays in English are available.

The building that houses the Deutsches Architektur Museum, or DAM for short, is a fine piece of architecture itself. Only one of its five floors has a permanent exhibit. It is called “from primordial hut to skyscraper” and traces architecture with 24 models from the first permanent dwellings to today’s skyscrapers.

The Cafe im DAM has the usual cakes and coffee, but also serves soups, salads, pasta and a dish of the day. Square tables and chairs fit the architectural theme.

The German Film Museum next door traces the history of the cinema. There is a rebuilt set from “The Maltese Falcon,” a replica of the robot from Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” and projectors and film-editing machines on display.

Cafe Kino in the basement has black-and- white portraits of contemporary German actors on the walls, and serves pasta for lunch.

What are applied arts? Think everything from Chippendale chairs to the design of your Gameboy, and from jewelry to silverware. Housed in a glass-and-white concrete building in the middle of a park, the collection of the Museum für Angewandte Kunst is divided into sections for design, European applied art, Islamic art, arts and crafts from East Asia and book art and graphics.

Its cafe, Restaurant Emma Metzler, has lunch specials, a pasta of the day, snacks and cake in the afternoon, and fine dining at night.


On the QT ...

Directions: The Museumsufer is on Schaumainkai, the street on the south bank of the Main River. From Autobahn A3, follow signs to Frankfurt-Süd, Sachsenhausen and Mainufer. There is very little free parking nearby. Subway lines U1, U2 and U3 stop at Schweizerplatz, and then it is about a two-block walk up to the river.

Times: The museums are open at different times, but all are closed on Mondays. Most open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m., and many are open to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Costs: Entrance fees for the museums vary. The cheapest is the Communication Museum at 2 euros for adults and 1 euro for children 6 to 15 years of age. The Städel is the most expensive at 6 euros; however, children under 12 are free. There is a two-day Museumsufer ticket good for 26 Frankfurt museums that costs 12 euros for adults; a family ticket is 20 euros.

Food: Most museums have cafes or restaurants. Sachsenhausen, the area around the museums also has lots of places for food and drink.

Information: All museums have Web sites, but only a few are in English. Go to the Frankfurt tourism site at www.frankfurt-tourismus.de/cms/tourismussuite/en/home.html then click on Leisure & Culture and the list with information on the city’s museums.

— Michael Abrams


This almost life-size, porcelain turkey centerpiece is on display at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Applied Arts) in Frankfurt.
MICHAEL ABRAMS / S&S

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