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Das Unternehmen Messe Frankfurt

The Company

History of Messe Frankfurt GmbH

Ausstellungs- und Festhallen-Gesellschaft mbH, the company that would later become Messe Frankfurt GmbH, was founded on 22 November 1907. It was set up with a view to constructing and operating the first Frankfurt trade fair hall, the “Festhalle”, which was officially opened in 1909 in the presence of the Kaiser and his wife.

In 1920, the company began to trade under the name Messe- und Ausstellungs-Gesellschaft mbH, with the City of Frankfurt as its sole shareholder. A second shareholder, the federal state of Hesse, came on board in 1951. Today, the City of Frankfurt am Main holds a 60 percent stake in the company, which has traded under the name Messe Frankfurt GmbH since 1983, while the federal state of Hesse holds the remaining 40 percent.

The first event to be held in the newly constructed Festhalle and on the exhibition grounds was the International Airship Exhibition (Internationale Luftschifffahrt-Ausstellung) in 1909. In 1919, in the wake of the First World War, the first trade fair was held in accordance with the “Frankfurt principle”, i.e. with a thematic focus by exhibitor groups. However, only a small number of exhibitions of international significance were held up until the outbreak of the Second World War. The Festhalle was severely damaged in a fire in 1940 and by 1945 the exhibition grounds lay in ruins.

Impression der Frankfurter Festhalle

The reconstruction of the exhibition grounds began as soon as the war came to an end. The Festhalle was restored between 1946 and 1950 and new exhibition halls built as well. Even at this early stage, the congress hall and the former Hall 3 were already defining the architectural scope of the grounds.

The international Frankfurt trade fairs emerged anew with the 1948 Autumn Fair and the 1949 Spring Fair.

Impression der Frankfurter Festhalle

Interstoff and ISH, the first fairs to be devoted exclusively to one specific sector, were held in 1959 and 1960 respectively. The differentiation of the trade fairs continued in 1971 with the debut of Heimtextil and Automechanika. The 1980s saw the arrival of new special trade fairs in the form of Musikmesse and Techtextil. In 1987, the first trade fair was held abroad: Interstoff Asia in Hong Kong. Since then, Messe Frankfurt has continued to step up its internationalisation activities.

Impression der Frankfurter Festhalle

Messe Frankfurt is the world’s largest trade fair, congress and event organiser with its own exhibition grounds. With some 2,400 employees at 30 locations, the company generates annual sales of over €640 million. With its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, the company is owned by the City of Frankfurt (60 percent) and the State of Hesse (40 percent).

The gallery below allows you to take a walk through the history of the Frankfurt trade fairs and Messe Frankfurt. In words and images, they give a chronological account of important and memorable trade fair moments from the past decades.

Running the German Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

Expo 2015

On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, Messe Frankfurt organised the construction and running of the German Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015. The theme for Expo 2015 in Italy was “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. The country presentations centred on the key words food, energy, globe and life. The German Pavilion, “Fields of Ideas”, showed new and surprising problem-solving approaches from Germany for producing food in the future. True to its motto, “Be active!”, it invited visitors – some three million in all – to take action themselves.

Download: history of Messe Frankfurt

History - extended version (PDF, 34.73 KB)

History - extended version