A Museum for Kids and Adults
Heinrich Hoffmann and Struwwelpeter
The world of Struwwelpeter and its author, Heinrich Hoffmann, comes to life in the center of Frankfurt am Main’s posh Westend district. Since 1977 the Struwwelpeter Museum has made its home in a beautiful, old residential building. Its exhibitions show Heinrich Hoffmann to be a fascinating personality of the nineteenth century.
Books, images, and other documents tell the story of Hoffmann’s multifaceted life and career.
Heinrich Hoffmann (1809-1894) was:
- a general practitioner of medicine, and, beginning in 1851, the director of the Frankfurt Institute for the Epileptic and Insane. His lifework in the field of medicine was the construction of a psychiatric hospital in Frankfurt. He was the founder of numerous civic clubs and known to be a humorous public speaker.
- a liberal-minded citizen during the 1848 revolution in Germany. He represented his native city, Frankfurt am Main, in the pre-parliament at Paulskirche.
- the author of various literary works for adults, including romantic poetry, dark satires, and comedic pieces critical of the times.
- the author of the picture book, Struwwelpeter, as well as other works for children.
The astounding story of the reception and influence of this nineteenth century classic of children’s literature is not only documented at the museum by scarce early editions of the work (for example, the 1860 variant depicting a “long-maned” illustration of the title character). The exhibit also includes exotic translations of the book into Afrikaans, Chinese, and Rhaeto-Romanic, which demonstrate the work’s worldwide circulation. To date, Struwwelpeter has been translated into over 45 languages, and has served as the basis for numerous imitations and parodies, the so-called “Struwwelpetriaden.” Since the time of the 1848 revolution, current events in Germany have been accompanied by various imitations, parodies, and caricatures based off of Struwwelpeter, which further illustrate the ubiquity of the best seller. Of course, this enthusiasm for the Struwwelpeter has not been felt by all, and the controversies surrounding the book are taken into account by the exhibits.
Alternating special exhibitions at the museum focus upon specific topics related to Hoffmann and his work and offer fresh perspectives on them.
With a lot of fun and imagination, children discover the world of the Struwwelpeter stories and bring them to life. The museum provides the props and toys and invites children to an interactive museum experience. The Struwwelpeter quiz in hand, kids are able to investigate the exhibition. Want to play as Struwwelpeter? No problem! In the playroom, anyone may dress up as his or her favorite character—even grown-ups, if they want to give the Struwwelpeter hairdo a try. There are also children’s theater performances on most Sundays. It is a special treat to celebrate a child’s birthday with Struwwelpeter. Kindergarten classes and classes of other grade levels should schedule their visits to coincide with our tour times.
A singular museum: culturally and socially
A supporter of the museum is the frankfurter werkgemeinschaft e.V., a social work group for the mentally handicapped. The frankfurter werkgemeinschaft e.V. carries forward the reformational psychiatric work of Heinrich Hoffmann using contemporary means. The frankfurter werkgemeinschaft e.V. is a rehabilitation center for the mentally ill, and shares a roof with the Struwwelpeter-Museum, which provides rehabilitative jobs. It is singular bond between cultural and social institutions.