The Jewish Museum Frankfurt and its branch Museum Judengasse show the historical development and the religious culture of the Jewish communities that lived in the city from the 12th until the 20th century. Even in medieval times, there were Jews living in Frankfurt, contributing towards all aspects of urban life. Before the Jewish community of Frankfurt was destroyed and its members murdered, it was the second largest in Germany. The permanent exhibitions, which present the intricate relationships between Jews in Germany and their surroundings in their local context, are regularly augmented and complemented by temporary exhibitions.
The Jewish Museum Frankfurt was opened in 1988 as the first major Jewish Museum in Germany after the war. It is accommodated in the former Rothschild Palais, a building ranked as an historical monument with a number of 19th century rooms and a representative staircase. This building has a colourful history as one of the residences of the world-famous Rothschild family and later as a renowned public library and as a so-called Collecting Point for the US military department of Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives. The main component of the Museum Judengasse is the excavation site showing the foundations of buildings in Frankfurt's former ghetto, the so-called Judengasse (Jewish Alley). There is a permanent exhibition documenting the history of the street, and the people who lived here over a period of more than 300 years. Together, the Museum Judengasse, the Old Jewish Cemetery (1272-1828) and the Neuer Borneplatz Memorial form a unique historical ensemble.
The Jewish Museum has assembled an extensive collection of Judaica with objects saved by holocaust survivors from various regions in Europe. One of the rare pieces that can be traced back to the Judengasse is a superb Hanukkah lamp made by Johann Valentin Schüler. There is also a substantial art collection with paintings by Moritz Daniel Oppenheim and the Ludwig Meidner Archive including the artistic bequest of Ludwig Meidner and a number of other artists who were forced to leave Germany during the Nazi period. The Historical Collection and the Documentary Archives comprise numerous historical objects and documents from Frankfurt and Germany with the recent addition of the estate (paintings, photographs, memorabilia and furniture) of the family of Anne Frank now at the museum’s Frank Family Center.