In 2008, the Hanseatic City of Hamburg’s most important historic museums, which present the history of the city, the region and the North, were brought together to form one entity – the Historic Museums Hamburg Foundation. It is certainly an exceptional museum organisation with its large number of sites, the scope of its collections and the large variety of topics it covers. Setting up the foundation in the year 2008 saw the creation of one of the largest city and regional historic museum complexes in Europe, which, with more than 360,000 visitors each year, is also one of the most visited museum organisations in Hamburg.
The Collections: chronicle of a civic city
With more than five million objects from past centuries in their collections, the foundation’s museums provide an impressive opportunity to tell the history of the Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the region, to show both national and European aspects and to see the city in its international context.
Something else that is really special about the collections is that they represent all the different parts of the population and the social environments which are relevant for the history of the city: in the Museum for Hamburg History we see the political and cultural accomplishments of Hamburg’s middle classes; the Altonaer Museum tells us about the cultural history of the independent and freedom-loving people in the city and the region; the Museum of Work shows us how structural change has led the city to develop from an industrial to a service society; the Port Museum and the Warehouse District Museum present the everyday life of the port workers, and finally, in the Jenisch House, we are given a glimpse of upper class culture in the 18thand 19thcenturies.
Committed to the history of Hamburg
In their wide-ranging work with the collections, the Historic Museums Hamburg is still a classic museum establishment. This is a place where research is carried out and presented, and where special exhibitions and events are organized and put on. For example: the Museum Service arranges more than 7,000 guided tours each year, 30 members of staff take care of managing the collection, and on average six large exhibition projects and several special collection displays are implemented every year. It is a very lively museum with a total of more than 250 employees dedicated to helping a wide range of people experience the history of Hamburg by presenting it in an exciting variety of ways.
With the German Port Museum, which is to be developed and set up with federal government funding to the tune of 120 million Euros over the next few years, the Historic Museums Hamburg Foundation will be gaining yet another significant location where the history of the port of Hamburg will be presented as an important part of German and European economic history. One of the aims of the German Port Museum is to provide an insight into the globalisation of international trade and to understand how this has changed business and society. The development of the port in political, economic, social and cultural contexts will be researched, documented and presented in innovative ways.
The Historic Museums Hamburg Foundation has been publishing its own journal - “Hamburg History Live!” - since 2015. There are four issues a year, presenting articles and reports by the scientists at the Historic Museums Hamburg. Accompanied by impressive photo-spreads, the magazine presents some of the important topics and events impacting on the historical development of the city of Hamburg, the region and the North. Another step towards fostering even more communication and interaction with the general public has been taken by setting up our own web-based knowledge portal which contains all the results of the museums’ work so the enormous amount of knowledge that is available in the Historic Museums Hamburg is also accessible on a digital level.