Giving History a Fresh Shine: Drees & Sommer Manages the Refurbishment of the Germanic National Museum

© GNM/Florian Kutzer
On the edge of Nuremberg's historic Old Town, the south and southwest buildings of the Germanic National Museum combine modernity with history – and will be preserved for many generations to come as a result of the renovation.

Outstanding sculptures, historical weapons, celestial globes and doll houses – Germanisches Nationalmuseum holds important evidence of Europe's complex history, from the Paleolithic Age through the 20th century. The museum complex is also steeped in history, as the buildings are from different eras. To ensure that the museum retains its appeal for many generations to come, two sections of the building are now being renovated. Work will be done on the landmarked south building and the southwest building, which date from around 1900 and the 1960s, as well as a staircase between them. In addition to the highly regarded architectural firm David Chipperfield Architects, Drees & Sommer SE, a consulting firm specializing in construction and real estate, is also advising on the challenging contract. The buildings are scheduled to be renovated and the exhibition spaces refurbished by the end of 2028.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the cultural history of Europe at the Germanic National Museum. And they have been doing so for more than 150 years. The largest cultural history museum in the German-speaking region was founded in 1852 by the Franconian nobleman Hans Freiherr von und zu Aufseß. The museum has continued to exert a fascination ever since.

‘Every year, several hundred thousand people visit the Germanisches Nationalmuseum out of interest. Visitors' expectations are changing, as are the technical options for exhibiting historically unique objects in a lively way while using the latest conservation techniques. Museums face the challenge of these circumstances again and again. The renovation of the south and southwest buildings is the largest and most ambitious construction project since refurbishment of the gallery building was completed in 2010. The aim is to present evidence of high and everyday culture also in the south and southwest buildings, across genres and in a historical context, thus creating a unique experience for visitors,’ explains Professor Dr. Daniel Hess, Director-General of the museum.

A Combination of Tradition and Future

The ambitious renovation project is special in many respects. The landmarked south building of the Germanic National Museum with its staircase was designed by Sep Ruf in the 1960s. The Munich-based architect is one of the most important representatives of modern architecture in Germany and Europe. The collection of musical instruments, historical clothing and folklore exhibits are spread over four floors. The exhibits place high demands on conservation. For example, the sensitive musical instruments require a special ventilation/air conditioning system.

The massive neo-Gothic southwest building was constructed around 1900 and houses the knights' hall, the farmhouse parlors and the 19th century collection. The brick building was rebuilt with slight modifications after war damage. Its historicized brick façade contrasts with the reinforced concrete structure of the Ruf building. Both sections of the building are connected by a transparent staircase. 

Fit for the Next Generations

‘Renovation projects involving special-use landmarked buildings are always particularly challenging. By carrying out the renovation, all project participants are ensuring that this historic building in the middle of the city, and the art objects that it holds, will be preserved in the same quality for many generations to come,’ says Christian Marschke from Drees & Sommer, who leads the project.

More information you could find in the Pressrelease.