MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt/Main is one of the world’s most important museums of contemporary art and, despite being a relative newcomer on the scene, has in the space of less than two decades established a firm place for itself in the international museum scene.
Ever since MMK first opened in 1991, it has played a major part in the cultural and social life of the city. With its post-modern architecture, which is today considered quite exemplary, the MMK likewise offers a major platform for culture in Frankfurt, ensuring the city will never again lack a museum for contemporary art.
Today, the MMK Collection includes over 5,000 works of international art, ranging from the 1960s to the immediate present. In terms of its quality, diversity and incomparable profile, the MMK Collection stands out clearly from other museum collections. From the very outset, MMK has had to rely on the support of patrons and friends. In other words, over the last 20 years or so very close links have been forged to the citizens of Frankfurt, to whom the MMK is deeply indebted. It has likewise enjoyed the patronage of countless national and international corporations based in Frankfurt. It is this generous support that has enabled MMK to fulfill its duties as an educational institution and a museum.
The youngest of Frankfurt’s museums was founded in 1981. In 1983, there was an open competition held for proposals for the museum building. On May 17, 1983 Vienna-based architect Hans Hollein was awarded 1st Prize and commissioned to handle the project. MMK officially opened in June 1991.
Hans Hollein’s design rests on two premises. Firstly, he took the urban setting into account and the specific conditions of the site. Secondly, he focused on MMK’s planned "program" and the functional requirements this entailed, namely the need to present the visual arts to the broader general public in such a way that the art was foregrounded as regards to both the building’s content and the outer skin.
According to Hans Hollein, there can be no neutral space within a museum, "but only characteristic spaces of different sizes (and the access routes) that enter a dialectical relationship with the artwork, to their reciprocal advancement." And in the form of the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, which owing to the shape of its footprint Frankfurt citizens and all lovers of post-modern architecture refer to as the "piece of cake", Hollein achieved a miracle. He succeeded, for example, in structuring the triangular building on the triangular site such that a tour of the building becomes an emphatic experience in its own right. Hardly a visitor can guess on first setting foot in MMK what it will look like from the inside.
The main entrance to the museum is located on the corner of Domstrasse and Braubachstrasse, ensuring a clear access point and linking the edifice to the city’s ancient heart. The building is structured around a central hall that is suffused with natural light from above, and from which you can not only see but also reach all MMK’s various rooms and floors. What makes the architecture so exciting is the relationship of the individual rooms to one another, their varying proportions, and the specific use of light in the building as a whole.
MMK contains almost 40 rooms, and, owing to the particular shape of the building, they have been individually designed such that it is hard to compare them with customary museum rooms encountered elsewhere. The result is a marvelous balance of architecture and art. Visitors perceive the architecture thanks to the art, and vice versa.