Historisches Museum Frankfurt

Information Architecture for a Multi-Layered Walk Through History

The new building of the Historisches Museum Frankfurt offers many possibilities for an exciting examination of the city's past and present. 14 municipal collections convey a broad spectrum of cultural-historical themes. 36 interactive stations enable visitors to engage physically diverse topics. Following the opening of the exhibition in the museum's historic building in 2012, the 4,200sqm exhibition in the new building has now been officially opened.

Organisation of Objects and Data

iart is responsible for the overall concept and media planning of the 36 different interactive stations. Some media stations can be flexibly loaded with changing contents. Others are specifically designed for certain contents and associated interactions. Subjects were defined for all stations, storyboards created and screen designs created. The guidelines for implementation were then defined and the call for proposals organised. In addition, the content was implemented in 20 stations.

The exhibition is based on a complex interweaving of physical objects and a wealth of digital information. A central content management system was installed in order to organize all data and keep it flexibly manageable in the future. During development, interfaces to various existing databases had to be made available and complex security requirements met. Today, not only the museum's website is fed from this basis, but information is also made available in various formats for varying media stations.

Diverse Media Stations 

At the front of the exhibition space on the first floor, the wall is covered with portraits of famous people from Frankfurt. An interactive media table provides background information on this "Gallery of Ancestors". Here the paintings are digitally reproduced as they are hung on site. The digital gallery can be browsed to the right and left via touchscreen. Thus background information can be accessed for each picture.

Under the title "Ortsgeschichten" ("Local Stories"), memory can be tested playfully at an interactive table: A map of Frankfurt shows historical and current views of squares and buildings. These can be dragged and dropped to the right places. In this way, different historical stages are brought to overlap and transformation becomes visible.

On the top floor visitors find a huge physical model of the city of Frankfurt. It provides an overview that is not always possible in urban space. The multitude of different buildings is matched by a wealth of information on the adjacent walls, where two projections provide demographic data: Immigration and emigration, population growth, transport, rent, income etc.

The digital photo booth nearby enables a "selfie journey" through Frankfurt: the live portraits of the visitors are inserted into views of historical buildings. In this way, the interconnection of people and city is set directly into the picture.

Eventually, in the "Bibliothek der Generationen" ("Library of Generations"), objects and testimonies of people whose lives were strongly influenced by the city of Frankfurt are kept. All participants are nominated by those already involved. This also creates a panorama of the relationships between people. The database corresponding to the physical objects is fed by an interface to the web-based management application MuseumPlus.

Exhibition Site


Project Phases

Conception, Planning and Realisation

Project Duration

7 years


7 october 2017

Exhibition Duration

Permanent Exhibition

Exhibition Area

3000 m2