A fire broke out at the Frankfurt Museum für Moderne Kunst in Germany on Monday morning, according to the German publication DW, with firefighters working throughout the day to extinguish it. The museum was closed for renovations, and there have been no reports of injuries or damage to artworks. The source of the fire was was caused by a technical defect in a diesel emergency power generator, and human error and arson have been ruled out.
A representative to the museum emailed a statement to ARTnews, “We are glad and very grateful that nobody has been harmed by the fire on the roof of the MMK. The exact extent of the damage is currently being examined by the responsible experts.”
The flames were mainly confined to the area around the museum’s copper roof, according to a statement from the fire department.
The fire department said it was alerted to the fire at noon. Its statement, per DW, read in part, “Due to the rapid intervention, the fire spread could be limited to this superstructure of the roof. The copper roof had to be laboriously opened in the area of the superstructure in order to be able to extinguish all burns and embers.”
The museum building, which was completed in 1991 and designed by Hans Hollein, holds a collection of more than 5,000 pieces. Most of the work in storage due to the museum’s undergoing renovation. A nearby MMK site hosting a group exhibition with work by Hito Steyerl, Erik van Lieshout, Henrike Naumann, and others was not endangered by the fire. Eyal Wiezman of Forensic Architecture, who also has a piece in the show, noted to ARTnews, “We are relieved to have learnt that nobody was harmed.”
A photo showing firefighters carrying three On Kawara date paintings that are in the museum’s collection made the rounds on social media in the hours after the fire broke out, but it was not immediately possible to confirm the image’s authenticity, and a museum official said they could not verify it.
Update, July 30: Information was added to this post about the cause of the fire and the museum’s response to the photograph of the firefighters.