German Ivory Museum

At a glance

daily from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm also accessible without a guided tour

Winter break from 1 January until 28 February

Information on dealing with ivory objects in your own possession

Count Francis I of Erbach-Erbach established the tradition of ivory carving in the region at the end of the 18th century. During his six-year educational journey through Europe, Count Francis I discovered collections of the most precious ivory works as well as the artful processing of the precious material. Back in the Odenwald, he made, among other things, boxes and tableware from ivory, tortoiseshell and buffalo horn in his own workshop. Through his pioneering role as an artist, through the founding of the ivory-turners’ guild in 1783, the procurement of materials and the reduction of customs barriers, Count Francis I supported his economic experiment from the very beginning. His comprehensive education provided the prerequisite for this.

Starting with Count Francis I and his own handcrafted ivory works, the German Ivory Museum presents a chronological tour from the beginnings of ivory art in Erbach to the modern age. The exhibits emerge from the darkness into the light, floating as it were. The individual experience, the joy of the aesthetics of each individually designed work is at the centre of this modern and award-winning presentation.

Showcases in the German Ivory Museum

The treasure chamber of the German Ivory Museum brings together in twelve showcases the entire splendour and diversity of the ivory carving art of Erbach and also of Germany from the 18th to the 20th century.

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2021

Female nude

Otto Glenz is considered one of the most important Erbach artists. He was particularly interested in the female nude, including antique female figures, dancers and elves.

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2021

Awakening of Spring by Ferdinand Preiss

Detail der Figur "Frühlingserwachen", in den 1920er Jahren geschaffen von Ferdinand Preiss, einem der führenden Elfenbeinschnitzer des Art déco.

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2021

Among others, twelve leg carvings by the important expressionist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976) are on display. Founding director Hans-Werner Hegemann acquired the exquisite works personally from the Berlin-based artist in 1972. The German Ivory Museum now dedicates its own cabinet to him. It can be visited as part of the museum visit.

View of the Schmidt-Rottluff gallery

The last room of the German Ivory Museum's permanent exhibition shows works by the artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff (1884-1976).

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2021

Ivory relief by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff

Karl Schmidt-Rottluff is one of the most important representatives of expressionism in Germany.

Photo: Michael Leukel, 2021

Ivory carving of female nude

Ivory relief with kneeling female nude. 1943-1961

Foto: Michael Leukel, 2021