A Retired Nurse Loved Visiting This German Museum So Much That She Bequeathed Her Home to It—Much to the Institution’s Surprise

The Folkwang Museum in Essen had no idea Jutta Franke's donation was coming.

The Folkwang Museum. Photo: Volker Hartmann/dpa via Getty Images.

A retired German nurse came up with an unusual way to make a gift to a museum she loved.

Before she died, at age 82, Jutta Franke drew up papers to bequeath her house to the Folkwang Museum, in Essen, Germany, reports Monopol. She asked that it be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to the institution. The museum had no idea that the gift of the house, which sits on about 700 square yards of property, was coming.

In fact, the museum wasn’t even familiar with Franke. “We would have liked to get to know the lady during her lifetime and thank her for her extraordinary generosity,” Ulrich Blank, the director of the Folkwang Museum Association, told Monopol.

The house is worth “a few hundred thousand euros,” according to the German news network WDR. The museum will use the funds to buy an artwork, which will be permanently associated with Franke’s name.

It’s no wonder that the museum, stocked with works by artists including Picasso, Matisse, Delacroix, Courbet, Manet, Renoir, Cézanne, van Gogh, Dalí, Munch, and many more, as well as an ethnological and craft collection from around the globe, provided a place of delight for Franke, who, the sleuths at Monopol found out from her neighbors and acquaintances, was an avid traveler who also whiled away many a Sunday at the Folkwang.

The house, in the Frillendorf district, is now in the hands of a real-estate agent.

News from the museum hasn’t always been so heartwarming. In 2014, it caused an outcry when it canceled an exhibition of Balthus’s Polaroid photographs after an article in Die Zeit accused the artist of pedophilia. The museum feared “unwanted legal consequences” due to the presence of an eight-year-old girl in the suggestive photographs, Artnet News reported.

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