Friedrich Nicolas Manskopf and His Museum

Ann Kersting-Meuleman (Universitätsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main) has written this post in honor of the 150th birthday today of Friedrich Nicolas Manskopf:

Jakob Friedrich Nicolas Manskopf (25 April 1869–2 July 1928) was a wine merchant by trade in Frankfurt but was best known for the museum of music and theater history that he founded and operated.

During his schooldays he received violin lessons from Robert Pfitzner, the father of Hans Pfitzner. Starting in his youth, he enthusiastically collected music and theater memorabilia. He continued collecting during his training at wine stores in Lyon (from 1888), London (from 1889), and Paris (1891-1893) and was able to expand his focus beyond Germany to other European countries.

When he returned to Frankfurt in 1893, his collection consisted of more than 15,000 items, including a lock of Beethoven's hair, Liszt's umbrella, and numerous autograph letters from famous musicians and actors. At first, he returned to his parents' house at Untermainkai 54, and due to the sizable growth of his collection he rented new premises in the mid 1890s, where he opened a private museum. He stayed in his family's wine business initially and continued with his own wine store in 1902 due to differences with new partners.

Around 1920, the collection consisted of around 30,000 portraits of musicians and theatre professionals, around 12,000 autograph music manuscripts and autograph letters, around 2,500 libretti, around 1,400 posters, and paintings, musical instruments, memorabilia, program bills, theater leaflets, and newspaper clippings.

From 1901 to 1928 he curated 23 exhibitions in Frankfurt and regularly loaned out his objects to other exhibitions. From 1924 onwards he was able to use his parents' entire house as a museum.

After his death, his heirs handed over the museum to the City of Frankfurt, which continued to operate it in the original premises until the early 1940s. In 1946, the collection was transferred to the City and University Library, which has continued to preserve it as an archive. In 1978 an exhibition took place to mark the 50th anniversary of Friedrich Nicolas Manskopf's death. Over the past 15 years, parts of his collection have been digitized and are now available free of charge online.

Further reading:
Wikipedia: Friedrich Nicolas Manskopf, Sammlung Manskopf

Jakob Friedrich Nicolas Manskopf, Das musikhistorische Museum von Nicolas Manskopf, Frankfurt am Main, ca. 1903

Georg Otto Kahse: "Das musikhistorische Museum von Nicolas Manskopf zu Frankfurt am Main," Musikalische Rundschau (Düsseldorf): vol. 1/4 (1913): [23]-29

Exhibition booklet from 1978


Portrait of Friedrich Nicolas Manskopf

Interior of the Manskopfschen Musikhistorischen Museum, ca. 1925 (Universitätsbibliothek Frankfurt a. M./ Mus S 6)

All images courtesy of Ann Kersting-Meuleman.

Category: Library collections

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