The Carmelite Church and Monastery (Karmeliterkirche and Karmeliterkloster) are among the few buildings remaining from mediaeval Frankfurt. Today, the late-gothic church structure, deconsecrated in the early 19th century,serves as exhibition space for the Archaeological Museum. The enchanting cloister along with the monastery's refectory and dormitory are jointly used by the Museum and the city's History Institute for cultural events.

Jörg Ratgeb's wall-paintings in the cloister and the refectory are a jewel of art history. They display the biblical story of Salvation and the history of the Carmelite Order and are reckoned among the most important renaissance wall-paintings north of the Alps.

The witty contrast between the late Gothic of the church building and the "Romantic Rationalism" of the adjacent administration and functional areas, created by the architect Josef Paul Kleihues between 1984 and 1988, grace the Archaeological Museum with a unique flair. The new building picks up elements of the monastic architecture and gives them an altered aspect. Perhaps the most apparent trace of this provocative dialogue is revealed by the steel roof construction, which is integrated into the central nave of the Church of Our Lady.

The knowledge of what has gone before is pre-requisite for the development of the modern – Josef Paul Kleihues once defined his architectural programme thus. The Archeological Museum's new buildings vividly display this concern to set the historic structures of a city free, while yet re-working them. Only this tension can enable what Kleihues sees as the museum's main task: recollection in the sense of active and personal experience.

Further reading

Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte
Frankfurt am Main
Publisher: Magistrat der Stadt Frankfurt am Main,
Dezernat Bau, Hochbauamt. Frankfurt 1989
(Series of works by the Planning Department about building works undertaken by the city of Frankfurt am Main)

Das Karmeliterkloster in Frankfurt am Main
Geschichte und Kunstdenkmäler
Publisher: Evelyn Hils-Brockhoff
commissioned by the Offices of Culture and Leisure, the Department of Science and Art, and the City's History Institute.
Frankfurt am Main 1999