The Museum Angewandte Kunst is the first museum to dedicate the exhibition The Maximilian von Goldschmidt-Rothschild Collection to the private collector and patron and his former art collection. Its history reflects the life of its collector, who was persecuted as a Jew under National Socialism. The exhibition therefore focuses on the Nazi persecution-related sale of the collection to the city of Frankfurt am Main in 1938, the subsequent transfer of its decorative arts pieces to the Museum für Kunsthandwerk (now Museum Angewandte Kunst), and the return of a large part of the collection to its rightful heirs after World War II.
Maximilian von Goldschmidt-Rothschild was the only person of Jewish origin to be elevated to the Prussian baronetcy under Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1907. His person combines professional success, education and philanthropic commitment. As a passionate art collector, he maintained contacts with museum directors and art dealers throughout Europe. His private collection of more than 1500 objects was considered one of the most important in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century.
In 1938, he had to sell it, as well as his residence, the Rothschild Palace, to the city of Frankfurt under National Socialist persecution. The palace and thus the arts and crafts part of the collection were declared the Museum of Arts and Crafts II. The paintings of the collection were given to the Städel Museum, while the sculpture collection was taken over by the Liebighaus. This purchase by the city of Frankfurt was probably the most spectacular case of municipal acquisition of art and property during the Nazi period in Frankfurt.
In response to the heirs' request for restitution of the collection since 1945, the city of Frankfurt and the museum directors, who had remained responsible since the Nazi era, initially tried vehemently to resist restitution. At the beginning of 1949, the museums finally restituted the majority of the art objects in the course of a settlement between the heirs and the city of Frankfurt. Numerous objects were auctioned off at two large auctions in New York in 1950 or were distributed to museums and private collections worldwide via the U.S. art trade. To the present day, the origin of the objects from the former collection of Maximilian von Goldschmidt-Rothschild lends them a special provenance value.