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.
The management team
Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg CzechDirector and member of the Board
Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Czech represents the Hamburg Historical Museums Foundation internally and externally as director and member of the board of directors and is responsible for the content and strategic orientation of the Foundation's museums. Directly subordinate to the Board of Directors are the respective directorates of the museums and the administrative department. As staff departments, the Board of Directors is directly responsible for press and public relations, marketing and development. In addition to the general management function, the central tasks of the board of directors are to set the economic, organisational, programmatic and scientific framework conditions of the museums belonging to the foundation.
The SHMH museums are facing a comprehensive modernisation process, which is being supervised by Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Czech. Intensive renovation and reconstruction measures are planned in almost all the houses in the coming years, as well as the renewal of the permanent exhibitions, with the aim of opening the houses further to the public. In addition, the Foundation is also involved in the preparations for the construction and content of the new German Harbour Museum.
Hans-Jörg Czech began his museum career with a traineeship at the Staatliche Museen Kassel before moving to the Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM) in Berlin as assistant to the Director General in 2000. In 2007 he moved to Wiesbaden as founding director of the City Museum of the Hessian state capital. In mid-2013, Senator Prof. Barbara Kisseler appointed him director of the Altona Museum. With his appointment, the museum was able to regain its strength as an important cultural history museum in Northern Germany with strong local roots in the Altona district. At the beginning of 2016 he moved to the head of the Museum of Hamburg History, where during his term of office the successful special exhibitions "No Beer without Alster. Hamburg - Brewery of the Hanseatic League" and "Revolution! Revolution? Hamburg 1918/19" were realized. During this time, he also worked together with the staff on plans for the structural modernization of the building and the new concept for the permanent exhibition. In numerous committees of associations and initiatives, he has been involved in issues in the context of memory policy and (post-)colonial discourses in Hamburg and beyond.
Bettina KiehnManaging Director
Bettina Kiehn is the managing director of the Historic Museums Hamburg Foundation and is responsible for all commercial matters in the areas of controlling, finances, personnel administration and visitor services. For SHMH, the continuation and further development of a cross-foundation administrative structure is an essential factor in ensuring its future economic success. In addition, in consultation with the director and sole director, it will plan, manage and supervise the commercial side of the structural and content-related modernisation of various SHMH sites in the coming years.
Bettina Kiehn, a business graduate, who has been head of the Wilhelmsburg Community Center Foundation since 2006 and sole director since 2009, has extensive experience in the economic and organizational management of a cultural institution, in the development of a wide range of measures for the self-financing of a non-profit organization and excellent specialist knowledge in the areas of subsidy, personnel and tax law.