The Nuremberg Municipal Museums are an affiliated group of seven museums, two historical sites and a variety of collections. Their "Showpiece of the Month" series regularly presents a selected exhibit from the group's institutions. Over the years, these showpieces have come to represent a kind of museum-based panorama of the city – a cross-section of objects, each of which tells a small part of the tale of the city's history.
From about 1820, traveling artists began disseminating drawings and watercolors of Dürer's house to places far from Nuremberg. Well-known Berlin landscape and architecture painter Johann Heinrich Hintze (1800-1861) presented this this painting in September 1828, on the occasion of the city's commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the painter's death. It shows the home of "Germany’s greatest artist" within the contemporary cityscape. The Albrecht Dürer House Foundation acquired the painting from a private owner in Belgium in 2001.
Along with the "Apocalypse of St. John" and the "Large Passion," the 20 pages of the "Life of the Virgin" represent one of Albrecht Dürer's most significant woodcuts. Initially published only on single sheets, the "Life of the Virgin" appeared in book form in 1511. Dürer expressively portrays Mary's life with calm, folk-like, almost humorous overtones. His impressive achievement in developing techniques for woodcuts and their interpretation as a medium is especially evident in this work. Here Dürer also aimed to apply the knowledge of perspective he had gained during his travels in Italy. The compositions are rationally conceived, and usually show frieze-like groupings of figures in grand architectural settings.
In 1526, Albrecht Dürer gifted the Nuremberg City Council with two panel paintings of the apostles John, Peter, Paul and Mark. Today these count among the most important works of European painting. Together with four more pairs of paintings, they temporarily made the Nuremberg City Hall a regular Dürer Museum, which for some 30 years housed a total of ten very fine originals from the great master. But the sad tale of the city's lost Dürer holdings began as early as 1587, when Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II claimed the "Adam and Eve" pair for his Prague collection. Forty years later, in 1627, Elector Maximilian I of (Catholic) Bavaria took advantage of the Thirty Years' War to demand that (Protestant) Nuremberg relinquish the "Four Apostles." Though the City Council attempted to offer high-quality copies made by Johannes or Georg Vischer in 1627, the tactic failed. Ever since, Dürer's four saints have been one of the highlights of the collection in the Bavarian capital of Munich.
It's certainly a somewhat surreal scene: the Master stands opposite himself, on either side of a table whose foot is a frightening mask. Above, the artist's coat of arms hangs in splendor, together with his epitaph from the Johannes Cemetery in Nuremberg, while the edge of the table bears Dürer's alleged motto, "Through work and constancy." Yet this etching by Lucas Kilian doesn't content itself with merely demonstrating admiration for a great predecessor: if we look carefully, we find that only the palette at the right edge of the picture is a reference to Dürer as a painter, while all the other items are drawn from the subjects covered by his three textbooks. And why is the portrait on the right dated 1517, even though the painting it's based on is clearly dated 1511 and has an entirely different inscription? The list of questions is as long as it is intriguing.
Our mental image of Dürer today was shaped by 19th-century hero worship. It reflects the germination and growth of German national awareness after the Napoleonic Wars. As Dürer became more and more honored and idealized, there was increasing demand for appropriate images that suited the tastes of the age. One prototype came from one of the most important sculptors in the classical style: Christian Daniel Rauch, who created the model for the statue in Albrecht-Dürer-Platz. The bronze statue itself was cast by the major Nuremberg sculptor and bronze worker Jacob Daniel Burgschmiet in 1849. In the summer of 2009, a silicone mold was taken of the statue's noble head, to make a plaster cast of the impressive face.
An elaborate inscribed panel helps somewhat to decipher this enigmatic image, but it doesn't include a usable title. "The Miser and the Miscarriage" is an invention of art historians to name this tiny engraving. It's a curious scene. A toad sits on the shoulder of a muscular nude man, who carries two sacks of money. In front of him an equally nude woman reclines on the ground, looking at a baby lying in front of her. Could this be a blasphemous reinterpretation of the Nativity? Barthel Beham might have been capable of such a thing, because the Nuremberg painter and engraver was not only famous for his high-quality work, but also notorious for the scandal of the "Three Godless Painters of Nuremberg": in 1525, he, his brother Sebald, and Georg Pencz were accused of heresy and expelled from the city. He settled in Munich, where he became painter to the Catholic court of the Duke of Bavaria.
Albrecht Dürer's last painting of himself alone, the "Self-Portrait in a Fur-Trimmed Robe," is not only a painting of unique artistic value, but a masterpiece of world art in general. This copy, ascribed to engraver and miniaturist Abraham Küfner, is full of riddles. It is fairly certain that the directorate of the Elector's art gallery in Munich bought Dürer's original from Küfner in 1805, and Küfner gave a receipt for the agreed payment of 600 gulden. But why did Nuremberg demand the return of the work in 1822? Why do the records of the City Council – of what was still a free imperial city at the time – contain no mention whatever of the sale of such an important work? And why does the copy – in a highly unusual twist – also copy the reverse side of the Munich original? The picture raises questions that even modern x-ray and infrared studies have left unanswered.
The important Nuremberg graphic artist Haller, born in Hiltpolstein in 1771 into one of the city’s most highly respected patrician families, soon discovered his talent for the graphic arts and sought appropriate training. His 58-sheet sketchbook, very well preserved, was acquired from a private owner. The work has hitherto been entirely unpublished, and contains a total of 76 separate drawings and sketches, some of which were pasted later onto blank pages in the book. They present an informative cross-section of Haller’s diverse work, including anatomical studies, copies of works by the Old Masters, memorandum pages and preliminary studies for his etchings and bookplates.
A small watercolor of Nuremberg Castle as seen from the north attracted international attention in 2007 as part of the major "Dürer e l'Italia" exhibition in Rome. It had been stored away for many years in an obscure corner of the city's collections until Dürer connoisseur Matthias Mende became its advocate and decided it came from the hand of the city's great master. The discovery was just in time for the "Albrecht Dürer – An Artist in His City" exhibition at the Fembohaus Municipal Museum for the city's anniversary year in 2000. The ascription was also accepted for the major Dürer exhibition in Vienna in 2003. The Rome curators, however, were a bit more cautious: they added "(attr.)," for "attributed," after the artist's name in the catalog.
Travel was a major pictorial theme in the mid-19th century – particularly meaning the "Grand Tour" taken by the nobility and other wealthy people. This was also when "educational travel" first became common among a broader segment of the public. The present work by painter-lithographer Carl Ludwig Schubart shows a tour group taking their rest in a craggy landscape. Despite the summery, carefree ambience, everyone but the guide and the little girl in the foreground is grumpily absorbed in a red book. None pays any attention to the view of the landscape or their nearby environs. The red book is not hard to recognize as a "Baedeker," the era's most popular guide book. In 1857, Schubart's witty painting was already anticipating a later phenomenon: travel as a prestigious consumer product in which any real interest in foreign cultures plays only a minor role.
This giant woodcut centers on one of the key scenes of the New Testament: Christ's baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. But in this 1559 portrayal, the event from the Biblical narrative of salvation has been relocated, with the Pegnitz standing in for the Jordan and Nuremberg portraying Jerusalem. The baptism takes place as though in a vision, witnessed by the principal political and military patrons of the Reformation (on the left), with Jan Hus, Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon facing them on the right. Above the whole scene, the heavens open to reveal God the Father. Shortly after the historic Peace of Augsburg of 1555, Nuremberg is shown here as a home of Protestantism. Surrounded by its famed walls, protected by the powerful rulers of Brandenburg and Saxony, and watched over by the most significant figures of the Reformation, the free imperial city seems safely girded for a splendid Protestant future.
Wilhelm Ritter's Nuremberg Triptych was painted on commission from the City of Nuremberg for the Paris World's Fair of 1900. The central subject of the giant-sized three-part watercolor is a partial bird's-eye view of Nuremberg's Main Market Square. The side panels are a kind of cross-section with interior views of two popular Nuremberg structures, the Henkersteg bridge with the water tower, and the courtyard of the "Golden Goose" inn. These three views of Nuremberg served as a backdrop for the real exhibit: a 1:20 model of a hospital complex planned by the city's construction office. The walls of the individual model buildings were open for better viewing – which explains the choice of the triptych's illustrative treatment.
In 1846, the artist Johann Dietrich Carl Kreul (1803-1867), who had trained in Nuremberg with Academy director Albert Reindel, created this, one of his most charming paintings. In the 1820s, Kreul initially worked as a portraitist of the wealthy middle class. One of his best-known and most appealing portraits is "The Beautiful Girl of Nuremberg" (1827), a young woman of unknown identity wearing Biedermeier period folk dress. A few years later, Kreul turned to genre painting – the form that would bring him his greatest fame.
World-famous painter Maria Sibylla Merian lived in Nuremberg for twelve years, and her artistry introduced Nuremberg to a new art tradition whose influence survived for generations afterwards. It is considered the inspiration for the natural-history "cabinet paintings" of the 18th century. In Nuremberg, it was the Dietzsch family of artists who specialized in this kind of painting. All seven children trained in the studio of their father, Johann Israel Dietzsch. While the boys concentrated on landscape painting, Barbara Regina and her sister Margaretha Barbara concentrated on individual items of local flora and fauna. Barbara Regina, the eldest daughter, is now considered the family's most talented and productive member. Her masterfully painted flowers and insects are reflections of divine creation. These closely observed, highly detailed still lifes are decorative cabinet works that stand on their own merits.
Bartholomäus (Bartolomeo) Viatis was born in Venice in 1538, the son of a shopkeeper, and was sent to Nuremberg for training at the age of 12. It was the first step in an unparalleled career, for by the time of his death in 1624 he was the richest merchant north of the Alps. Viatis's daughter married Nuremberg merchant Martin Peller. Peller, in his turn, was the builder of the "Pellerhaus" around 1600, with its impressive baroque public rooms displaying carefully selected works of art. A historical photo from a far later era shows beyond a doubt that this extremely fine portrait of Bartholomäus Viatis once graced the "Beautiful Room" of the Pellerhaus, which was almost certainly the portrait’s original setting. The Pellerhaus was almost completely destroyed toward the end of the Second World War, but not before the wood paneling from the "Beautiful Room" had been taken to safety. In 1957 it was incorporated into the permanent exhibition at the Fembohaus Municipal Museum, where Kreutzfelder's painting can still be seen today.
Nuremberg had an outstanding reputation in the 15th and 16th centuries as a maker of scientific instruments that were sold all over Europe. One outstanding masterpiece of this instrument-maker's art is the superbly designed and crafted "Torquetum" by Johannes Praetorius (1537-1616). Developing and making a complex design like this called for the ultimate in skill and precision. It was used to calculate the position of the sun and stars, to measure altitudes on earth, and for astrological work. The Torquetum came into the possession of the city of Nuremberg in 1675, as part of a collection of scientific instruments formerly owned by the Ayrer family.
In 1935, the Nuremberg City Construction Office was asked to commission a model of the Old Town. The preparations alone took months: drawings of façades had to be organized, blueprints obtained, and the Ohm Polytechnic School had its students make drawings of the entire city walls and the Castle. It took four experienced wood carvers more than four years to complete the 1:500-scale linden wood model. It documents in impressive detail the late-medieval texture of Nuremberg as it appeared shortly before the city was destroyed in the Second World War. Safely stored in the "Art Bunker" below the Castle, this model survived to commemorate how the best-preserved large medieval city in Germany once looked, while the real Nuremberg was reduced to ruins.
In 1700, Wolfgang Moritz Endter commissioned a portrait of his wife from painter Johann Leonhard Hirschmann. The lady was a member of one of Germany's best-known artistic families of the 17th century. Her great-uncle, Joachim von Sandrart, was the only German artist of his day to enjoy an international reputation. Susanna's father, Jacob von Sandrart, was also famous. He settled in Regensburg as an engraver, and in 1654 married Regina Christina Eimmart, the sister of the major engraver and mathematician Georg Christoph Eimmart. In 1656, Jacob von Sandrart moved to Nuremberg, where he founded Germany's first academy of painting in 1662. In 1683, Susanna Maria von Sandrart married painter Johann Paul Auer, who left her a widow after only four years of marriage. After his death, she engraved reproductions for her father's publishing house, and in 1695 she married Endter, a Nuremberg publisher and book dealer.
Martin Luther took a comparatively positive view of the significance of pictorial decorations in churches: "images, bells, Eucharistic vestments, church ornaments, altar lights, and the like I regard as things indifferent. (...) I have no sympathy with the iconoclasts" (Luther, 1528). Nuremberg was the first free German imperial city to turn firmly to the Lutheran form of Protestantism, in March 1526 after the Nuremberg religious debates, and there was little destruction of church décor here. Among this auspicious environment, the genre of the "confessional picture" developed in the Franconian region during the mid-16th century, as a form of narrative Protestant graphic art. This is an especially fine and interesting example of the type, with remarkable portraits of the two reformers Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon, along with a large number of scenic images.
King Ludwig I of Bavaria was an ultra-modernist when it came to the redesign of his capital of Munich, and a great fan of Italian and classical art. But it was in Nuremberg that he discovered a passion for the German Middle Ages. In fifteen strophes he gave enthusiastic voice to his deep admiration for the old imperial city. So the city council engaged architect-painter Carl Alexander Heideloff to decorate a copy of the text with a splendid pictorial border in the style of a medieval book of hours. Above the apex of the arch, a Nuremberg soldier in 15th-century Landsknecht uniform and a Bavarian infantryman support the royal coat of arms. The pious imagery framing the poem shows costumes from Nuremberg's golden age in the days of Albrecht Dürer and the Reformation. Gothic design, which enjoyed a great popular revival in the 19th century, dominates the architectural decor.
The model of the free and imperial city of Nuremberg made by painter-woodcarver Hans Baier in 1540 is considered the oldest urban model from anywhere in German-speaking Europe. The exhibit in the Fembohaus is only a copy; the original is in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich. On an area measuring just 58 x 68 cm (23 x 27 inches), the model contains a complete reproduction of mid-sixteenth-century Nuremberg. You can get a three-dimensional impression of the city's size and imposing defense installations. The city gates, the detailed castle in the north of town, the city's mighty churches and the Pegnitz with its many bridges, cutting the city into two almost equal-sized parts – the model shows all of Nuremberg's most important landmarks.
Johann Justin Preissler was engaged in 1731 to make a ceiling painting for Count Christian zu Wied-Runkel. As a theme, he chose the apotheosis of Aeneas, from Ovid's "Metamorphoses." The painting shows the scene in which Venus asks her father Jupiter to elevate her son, the warrior hero Aeneas, to divine status. On the left, Aeneas kneels in vaguely classical armor. Beside him stands his mother Venus, commending him to her own father, Jupiter, who sits off to the right. To Jupiter's right sits his wife Juno, accompanied by her symbol, the peacock. This bird, prominently placed in the upper center of the painting, is a reference to the painting's owner – for it also happens to be the heraldic animal of the von Wied family. At the lower center kneels Cupid, aiming his arrow toward an imaginary viewer. Thus he establishes a connection between the portrayed world of the gods and the real world looking up at the ceiling.
This work seems almost like a little winged altarpiece – which is no real surprise. After all, it was made for a church (which no longer survives). In the upper field of the main painting we see King David experiencing a heavenly vision of the Trinity. Since David was virtually the patron saint of singers, the two cherubs over his head hold both a royal crown and the honorary crown of the Meistersingers – the late medieval German guild for poetry and song. The twelve men in the gathering of course mirror the twelve apostles, but there's an extra man at the left margin: Hans Sachs. The perennial preservation of his extensive body of work seems to have made him a kind of "honorary chairman." When both doors are closed, the four Evangelists appear. Although not a masterpiece of painting, this cabinet remains one of the most significant items of physical evidence of the Meistersinger tradition in Nuremberg.
The visit of Holy Roman Emperor Matthias I in 1612 was an opportunity for Nuremberg's City Council to show off its best side. Three years earlier, the city had joined the Protestant Union, and now it had to make up for that affront to the Catholic emperor. The painting shows the emperor's jubilant entry at the moment when he has just come through the magnificent triumphal arch specially built for the occasion below the city's Imperial Castle. Slightly behind follows his wife, the Empress Anna, in a splendid coach. A crowd of citizens hail the imperial couple from both sides of their path. To enhance the painting's drama, Paul Ritter has indulged in a rather noticeable bit of poetic license: everyone is shown coming down from the castle, even though when the emperor "entered" Nuremberg he would of course have been traveling in exactly the opposite direction.
Stucco sculptor Donato Polli, a native of Muzzano on Lake Lugano in Switzerland, was based in Nuremberg from 1691 onward. On a commission from Johann Georg Ebersberger, he created a set of splendid reliefs for the staircase and several rooms on the first upper floor of the Fembohaus. These delicate, playful ornaments can be seen today in the new staircase up to the first floor, where they continue into the foyer. The reliefs on two fireplaces in the southwest and southeast corners of the room deserve special attention. The finest reliefs of all can be found in the adjoining "Regency Room," now a music room, which was already much admired by contemporaries at the time of its creation. Polli's graceful reliefs in the Fembohaus, ranging from the most delicate low relief to almost fully detached high relief, are superb examples of artistry and craftsmanship. He elegantly combines strapwork ornamentation with leaves and vines, as well as figures from ancient mythology.
Bohemian-born painter Johann Kupetzky counts as one of Europe's master baroque portraitists. As members of the Bohemian Brothers, a religious community persecuted by the Counter-Reformation, he and his family were driven out of their homeland while he was still a very young child. Although Kupetzky presumably never quite mastered the German language, he was very well integrated into Nuremberg society from the time of his arrival in 1723. In addition to other artists, his Nuremberg friends also included merchant Wolfgang Tobias Huth, whose portrait Kupetzky painted no less than three times. One of these portraits provides a glimpse of the famed painter's living circumstances and artistry during his years in Nuremberg. A curious fact is that both the painter and his subject were immigrants to the city.
This 1823 work by Johann Adam Klein shows no trace of the many hardships that traveling involved in the nineteenth century. A coach, subtly modeled with light and shadow, passes the viewer by, heading in the direction of Bamberg. In the center is the whip-wielding postilion, and through the coach window we catch sight of a young woman. Dressed in a red mantle with a lace collar, she gazes toward a rider who is deep in conversation with a peasant. The men, together with a calf and a dog, are set away in the shadowy right corner of the picture – a trick to enhance the sense of depth. In the background, we see the city of Nuremberg from the northwest. Klein made a number of preparatory watercolors and drawings of the landscape and the harness fittings. The result is a work typical of the painter, developed from precisely prepared studies, and still readily decipherable by the viewer today.
In 1626, the ambitious young painter Lorenz Hess submitted a "trial work" to the Nuremberg City Council as part of his application for the status of master painter. One of the oldest interior views of the Rathaus hall, the painting shows in careful detail how the structure, dating from 1332/1340, looked in the first third of the 17th century. Hess's skill here certainly made an impression – the city fathers claimed the work for the Rathaus art gallery. Yet notwithstanding that success, they denied Hess his master status on the grounds that he could not document the requisite number of years as an apprentice and journeyman. So one year later, Hess submitted another entry – this time a portrait of the Virgin. Since the City Fathers liked the view of the Rathaus hall better, they simply kept the first "trial work" for good, and handed the second painting back to the artist.
This figure carved in linden wood is one of the few surviving Renaissance wood models for bronze castings. Made around 1550, it is attributed to sculptor Hans Peisser. Peisser became a citizen of Nuremberg in 1526 and probably studied here under Veit Stoss. The model for the fountain's famed Gooseherd is a superb example of collaboration between the artist and the craftsman, between designer and caster. The figure cast from this model for the fountain was produced by the major Nuremberg metalworker Pankraz Labenwolf (1492-1563).
In his day, Martin Peller counted as Nuremberg's richest merchant. In 1609 he began work on a splendid room in the second upper story of his "Pellerhaus," exquisitely decorated with ceiling paintings and wood paneling, and especially intended to impress visitors. He called it his "studieto," a room for collections. The walls were hung with paintings from his extensive collection of contemporary Italian art and works from the age of Dürer. The Pellerhaus, one of the finest late-Renaissance houses in Germany, was almost completely destroyed in 1945. Fortunately, the fittings of the Beautiful Room had already been conveyed to safety during the war, and in 1957/58 it was reconstructed in the rear building of the Fembohaus.
This building was commissioned by Nuremberg patrician Lienhard III Hirsvogel, who had a splendid hall in the latest Renaissance style built on the garden side of his home in 1534. It would be a gift for his bride Sabine Welser, whom he married in 1535. Lienhard engaged famed artists to design the interior. The architecture, as well as the wall paneling with its classical motifs and the stone "mantelpiece" as an access to the garden, are attributed to sculptor and medal-maker Peter Flötner. Dürer's student Georg Pencz was responsible for the ceiling portraying the Fall of Phaeton, in its day the "largest continuous ceiling painting north of the Alps." The décor was further enriched in the 1580s with a "Gallery of Emperors," life-sized busts of the first 12 Roman emperors. The Hirsvogelsaal fell victim to the bombing of 1945. But though the exterior architecture was irretrievably lost, the interior fittings had previously been taken to a safe refuge.
The best known version of this mythological tale appears in the "Metamorphoses" by the Roman poet Ovid, which provided painter, draftsman and engraver Georg Pencz with the subject matter of his portrayal. Driving the sun chariot of his sun-god father Sol, Phaeton loses control and sets the earth on fire. To prevent still worse disasters, Jupiter strikes the youth down with a thunderbolt, and he falls dead. The design of this kind of ceiling painting was something entirely new in Pencz's era. Twenty paintings on stretched canvas, without the usual subdivision into compartments, form a large work that covers the entire ceiling, giving the impression of a full-scale fresco. It is one of the first illusionistic ceiling paintings north of the Alps, and is an innovation in all of Europe.
When those involved in the trial of the "Major War Criminals" entered the courtroom at Nuremberg's Palace of Justice on November 20, 1945, they found a fully remodeled space equipped with the latest technology. The U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) had engaged architect Dan Kiley to plan and carry out the construction work on the building, which had originally opened in 1916. With the aid of American service people, local craftsmen and German prisoners of war, he was able to rehabilitate the partially destroyed building into a working courthouse in just three months. To prepare and provide an overview of the work, model builder John Meyer executed Kiley's ideas in great detail in a large wooden model that has unfortunately not survived. This exhibit was reconstructed in 2010 on the basis of the 1945 original, with the addition of certain details found in Kiley's partially preserved blueprints and historical photographs.
The German Building Exhibition was Nuremberg's first re-emergence into the limelight after the war. The Glass Pyramid was a symbol of the city’s destruction and reconstruction. Presented in front of a panorama of the devastated Main Market Square, the pyramid covering a model of St. Lorenz church illustrated the volume of rubble left in Nuremberg after its destruction in the war. This exhibition scenario also displays Nuremberg's view of itself after the war: the city was still representing itself entirely as a victim of the war. There was not the slightest allusion to its role as the "City of the Nazi Party Rallies," and there was no acceptance of German responsibility for initiating the air war and the destruction of cities in other countries. Unfortunately, the original Glass Pyramid has not survived. This reconstruction was built for the 1995 exhibition "Nuremberg 1935 – 1945 – 1995. Remembrance Is Not Divisible."
This intriguing exhibit from the Nuremberg Toy Museum is a children's electric stove developed around 1908 in Göppingen, Württemberg, by toymakers Gebrüder Märklin & Cie. With its Art Nouveau decorations and claw feet, this is one of the first toy electric stoves to have separately heatable burners, which were controlled by switches on the sides.
Many children in Africa play with toys home-made from discarded materials. Vehicles bent together out of wire are especially popular. This wire auto, which has belonged to the Toy Museum's collection since January 2009, was put together by children and teenagers in the South African township of Soweto under the guidance of freedom fighter Nelson Mandela. Mandela sent it to Scots politician Janey Buchan in Glasgow, in thanks for her many years of support in combating apartheid. Buchan donated it to the Stirling Smith Art Gallery, which in turn decided to gift it to the Toy Museum in Glasgow's twin city Nuremberg on the occasion of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's 90th birthday.
Nuremberg has a very special place in the history of magic. It had already made a name for itself in the late 17th century as a place where books on magic were printed. And in the 19th century, the city added further luster to its reputation by producing apparatus for magical illusions. One of the best-known makers of magical equipment was Johann Konrad Böhmländer, whose broad range of magic devices were sold all over the world. At the same time, however, there was an immense upswing of interest in magic. Commercially produced conjuring kits found enthusiastic users among both professional magicians and private individuals, whether adults or children.
Europe's first luxury printed fashion magazines with color illustrations appeared at the end of the 18th century. The popular medium gave rise to a new kind of toy, the dressable doll with a paper wardrobe. First developed and introduced in London, this great-grandmother of the Barbie doll appeared on the German "catwalk" for the first time in 1791. Friedrich Justin Bertuch's Weimar "Journal of Luxury and Fashion," an ancestor of the lifestyle magazine, sang the praises of these "English dolls" as a "new and very agreeable invention." By January 1793, Nuremberg painter, engraver and wax sculptor Johann Ludwig Stahl was announcing not only a female dressable doll but a male one, both with fashionable attire, in his "Intelligence Sheet No. 1 (Supplement to the Journal of Luxury and Fashion)." This rare, creative example from the Toy Museum documents an important branch of Nuremberg's luxury paper and toy manufacturing industry from around 1800.
Amid the technology fad of the 1920s and 1930s, rapid advances in industrialization quickly found imitators in the toy industry. One of the finest examples is the "glass motor" introduced in 1939 by Nuremberg toymakers Gebrüder Schmid. Here one gets a look into the technical secrets of an internal combustion engine. Detailed assembly instructions explain how to build a transparent model out of forty parts, including a four-speed transmission, a clutch, the engine block, a battery-powered ignition, and a water cooling system. The assembly could be moved with a hand crank. But its very special feature was the use of Plexiglas. This new material, which had just been invented, brought the engine’s functions – normally hidden away – into full view.
Learning by playing and watching was one of the cornerstones of educational theory during the Enlightenment in the second half of the 18th century. That encouraged the production and sale of toys and teaching resources. One gets a wonderful idea of what these were understood to mean in those days from the catalogs of Nuremberg merchant Georg Hieronimus Bestelmeier, with their engraved illustrations. From these catalogs, one could conveniently order anything one's heart desired, without leaving home. Products on offer included assembly toys that taught about the world in miniature, social games, magic tricks and resources for learning about technology and science through play. But the catalog served not just the young, but any "amateur of the arts and sciences" – because the boundaries between a child's game and scientific and technical playthings for adults were very fluid among educated, well-to-do people in the age of Goethe.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the geobra Brandstätter company in Zirndorf near Nuremberg advertised a working toy telephone system that provided all the most important functions of a real telephone network. The basic principles of the system had already been established in 1937. It had two Bakelite phone sets, with dials and handsets made of sheet metal, earpiece cables made of twisted textile fibers enclosing copper wires, a ten-meter, three-wire connection, and six "banana" connectors. The metal parts served as both preformed parts of the housing and switch contacts to carry current. A Neef hammer served as the buzzer or bell. A flat 4.5-volt battery housed in one of the phone sets could run the system for about two months. The system could carry calls as far as 100 meters.
Hand samples are indispensable for a game author who wants to make a successful presentation of a game to a publisher. Three-dimensional objects give the publisher a clearer idea of the game's concept and how it works. These models also offer an interesting glimpse into the maturing phase of a new game. Alex Randolph (1922 – 2004) was one of the most important game authors ever. He invented more than 100 games, with millions of copies sold. And a significant factor here was his beautiful designs, congenially brought to life by his friend, the artistic wood craftsman Angelo dalla Venezia. The sample for "Snail's Pace Race" is especially sophisticated in its aesthetics, and also marks the debut of large, milled cutouts as a new kind of game equipment.
Well into the 19th century, Nuremberg's mills along the Pegnitz River were still run by water power, which thus provided the energy for crafts and commerce. The situation changed only with the arrival of the steam engine invented in England, and its pioneering impact on industry. The MAN LT 10 steam engine on display at the Museum for Industrial Culture was built in Nuremberg in 1907. The valve-controlled tandem engine had a maximum output of nearly 1500 metric horsepower and is one of the largest of its kind – the flywheel, made of two halves, is 5 meters in diameter all by itself and weighs nearly 30 metric tons.
The world's first all-terrain vehicle was the product of a call for bids from the U.S. Department of War. The request went out to all American automotive manufacturers to develop a vehicle weighing no more than 1300 pounds (590 kg), seating at least three, and equipped with hydraulic brakes, four-wheel drive, and a four-cylinder engine. The prototype from Willys-Overland ultimately won the contract. Though offering little in the way of comfort, it could handle extreme terrain, was sturdily built and easy to repair – and cost just 740 dollars. The jeep at the Museum for Industrial Culture served in the U.S. Army for decades before finally arriving in Norway, where it was decommissioned in 1989 and shipped by air to Nuremberg.
At the age of just 22, Max Grundig founded his company Radio-Vertrieb Fürth (RVF) in 1930. This repair business specialized in selling spare parts that the firm had produced itself. Production during the war turned to parts and transformers needed for the war effort, and later radios. In 1951 Grundig presented his first television set, impressing an intrigued public with his "Prototype 080" at radio expositions and trade shows. The press, though, was skeptical at first – this expensive entertainment would probably always be reserved for the few. Television would never be a serious competitor to radio, the Fränkische Zeitung newspaper wrote at the time; at best it would serve as an adjunct medium. As we know, things turned out rather differently. The economic upswing and Germany's "economic miracle" made the change possible, and by the mid-1960s Grundig had produced some 15 million televisions, making it by far the largest German manufacturer in its field.
Hercules, Nuremberg's oldest bicycle-maker, turned to making motorcycles in 1903. The "Basic & Race" concept study, developed by design students in 1994, was based on the observation that young people in Southern Europe often massively remodeled their mopeds in ways that German traffic laws would not allow. The Hercules solution: a frame with an integrated tank that needed only a minimum number of further parts to make a vehicle that was ready to hit the road at a low price. Both the "Basic" version and the sporty "Race" version could easily be upgraded and customized with a wide variety of add-ons, since there was no need to interfere with the underlying technical configuration. The prototype enjoyed a successful presentation in 1994 and was approved for production, but the company was sold and the plans were never carried out.
"Form follows function," the mantra of modern design, finds perfect expression in this classic. The formal language is clear and reduced to essentials. The curve of the case precisely follows the curve of a 45 rpm single, which would be inserted and pressed down into the record slot. A retractable metal carrying handle follows the same curve. Round speaker holes complete the design. Most of the many portable Grundig radios of the 1950s and 1960s were dubbed "Boys." The "GA 45," originally made by the Milan company Minerva and designed in 1968 by none other than Mario Bellini, was the forerunner of a new "Boy," the "Phono Boy." Grundig acquired the license to produce and sell the product internationally in 1969. Italian industrial designer and architect Mario Bellini was born in Milan in 1935. Most of his designs are now considered classic. His "GA 45" is also on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which honored him with a major exhibition in 1987. Before Bellini, only one other artist had received the special recognition of a MOMA retrospective during his own lifetime: the unique architect/designer Charles Eames.
The oldest method of creating the forms for printing with movable lead type was "hand setting," in which individual letters and words were put in place by hand. It takes a great deal of skill and experience, it's complicated and time-consuming, and not least of all, it's extremely vulnerable to error. Many inventors tried to automate the process, but fell short of success. That is, until 1886, when the "linotype" (line of type) typesetting machine by Ottmar Mergenthaler, a German immigrant in the USA, made its successful debut at the New York Tribune. Within a few years, more than 700 of the machines were in use in America, and in 1896 linotype was introduced in Germany by the "Mergenthaler Typesetting Machine Factory." Linotype would not survive for long. With the development of series-produced phototypesetting machines, the linotype era began drawing to an end as early as the 1950s.
In 1951, Zündapp brought out the KS 601 – a model that made history. Designed by Ernst Schmidt, this was the first new motorcycle to be developed after the war. Its 28-metric-horsepower motor was a further development of the pre-war KS 600. The KS 601's brawny power and often linden-green paint job soon won it the nickname "The Green Elephant." The motorcycles were widely used in law enforcement, and were very popular for racing. Zündapp riders often dominated the popular endurance races of the era. From 1951 to 1958 the Zündapp plant turned out 5,680 "Elephants," which ruled the scene until 1958 and still symbolize Zündapp in the popular imagination even today. Sadly, the KS 601 Elastic, a version with a swing arm developed for the U.S. market, proved to be a valiant but vain effort to resist the end of the glory days of Nuremberg motorcycles.