Sachsenhausen – Frankfurt
by Rhea Wessel

Max Hollein, the director of three Frankfurt museums, is fond of Sachsenhausen, where many original façades still stand and residents have a certain sense of pride. Interviewed by Rhea Wessel, illustration by Marion Vitus

Viennese-born Max Hollein, the director of three Frankfurt museums, two of which are on the Sachsenhausen side of the Main river, was surprised to learn that Frankfurt is divided into rival camps: those citizens who live in Sachsenhausen and those who do not.

Offering prime views of the high-rise skyline and plenty of room for sunning oneself on the riverbank, Sachsenhausen greets visitors from the ‘other side’ with an impressive row of stately villas and architectural monuments, most of which serve as museums.

“For a city of its size, Frankfurt offers enormous cultural richness,” says Hollein, the director of the 1 Städel, the 2 Liebieghaus, and the Schirn museums.
Hollein frequents an Austrian restaurant right on the river called 3 Lohninger. He met the chef there when working in New York. “I like the schnitzel, but the goulash is certainly the best,” says Hollein. “I take any artist who visits us to eat at Lohninger. Often, the artist returns secretly the next day.”

Hollein appreciates Sachsenhausen’s communal feel and has come to think of vicinity as a virtue. “Almost everything is walking distance.” Schweizer Strasse is the neighbourhood’s main thoroughfare. There you will find a typical apple-wine restaurant called 4 Zum Gemalten Haus. “I like the painted walls. When I bring foreigners here, I order tongue, liverwurst, and blood sausages. Everyone says, ‘Is that really what it looks like?’”

To work off that lunch, how about a stroll along the river? Hollein recommends working your way in the direction of 5 Niederrad, where crowds are thinner and you’ll come upon a tiny island frequented by sunbathers.

Not a big shopper, Hollein can’t avoid one shop located on Laubestrasse – that of his wife, fashion designer 6 Nina Hollein. She sells her own clothes for women and children. On nearby Brückenstrasse, shoppers will find other small stores run by designers, along with inviting cafés.

Every second Saturday, shoppers can browse through the junk (and perhaps a few treasures?) at the riverside flea market and take an elegant lunch at restaurant 7 Emma Metzler at the Museum for Applied Art. Enjoy fine dining as light streams gloriously through the space designed by US architect Richard Meier.
If you prefer a longer walk or a short bike ride, another Sachsenhausen fixture is 8 Gerbermühle restaurant along the river in the direction of Offenbach. According to Hollein, it was one of Goethe’s favourites.

Max Hollein can be credited as a major cultural force in the city, bringing blockbuster museum exhibits and a constant stream of artists to the banking metropolis. Born in 1969 in Vienna, he worked at the Guggenheim in New York before moving to Frankfurt and overseeing the expansion of the Städel Museum’s collection and the doubling of its exhibition space. “Sachsenhausen has a great urban feel, with interesting shops and restaurants. At the same time, it’s very residential. It feels like a community.”