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Current Affairs

Back to School for Frankfurt's Garbage Men

Frankfurt's Städel Museum has decided that some ignorant citizens need to hone their art-appreciation skills. Garbage men, who accidentally burnt an artwork which they mistook for trash, have to attend art lessons.


It's off to art class after this

Frankfurt's sanitation department was contrite this week after some of its over-zealous workers lugged off a yellow plastic object to the garbage depot and promptly chucked it in the incinerator.

What sounds like a well-meaning cleanliness drive turned out to be a case of mistaken identity after it emerged that the object in question was a sculpture and part of an ongoing art exhibition by Michael Beutler, a graduate of the city's prestigious Städel Museum. The show involved a total of ten sculptures made of yellow wood and cement that were distributed over the city.

Peter Postleb, head of the city's "Clean Frankfurt" initiative took personal responsibility and said he had mistaken the plastic components of the sculpture for rubbish and had ordered it to be destroyed. "There was no sign on it and the individual parts were totally tattered and swaying in the wind," Postled apologized.

"Check your art sense"

The artist, Beutler, has taken the loss in his stride and emphasized that the exhibition was planned as a temporary work anyway (until Jan. 16) and the sculptures were meant to be recycled after that.

However, the Städel Museum is taking a more serious view of things.

This week, the renowned museum said it wanted to hone the appreciation and understanding of art among the city's sanitation officials. Under the motto "Check your Art Sense!", the museum will once a month invite the garbage collectors to learn a few artsy pointers.

During the first class, which takes place on Jan. 16, the museum plans to place a largely unknown painting from its storage room in front of a famous one that's currently displayed in its ongoing public exhibition.

Can we expect a lot of head-scratching from Frankfurt's garbage men?

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