Dr.-Ing. E. h. Georg Schäfer ( 1896-1975 ) joined his father's firm in 1919. His father, Privy Councillor Georg Schäfer (1861-1925 ), was a mechanic and master of wrought-iron work. In 1904 he established his own ball bearing factory and in 1909 he took over Friedrich Fischer's Erste Automatische Gussstahlkugel-Fabrik ( a cast-iron ball factory ).Thereafter, his firm with it's production of bearings, rapidly expanded into a key industry at a time of increasing motorization. The first subsidiary branch could already be inaugurated in 1936 in Wolverhampton, England. After the bombing of Schweinfurt during the Second World War, and the subsequent destruction of this crucial war-supporting industry, Georg Schäfer and his brother Dr. h. c. Otto Schäfer (1912-2000), undertook the rebuilding of the company. During the 1950-ies, they established branches in Canada, U.S.A and Brazil. In doing so, their company ( among others ) were responsible for the so-called economic miracle in Germany during post-war times. Georg Schäfer was awarded : Germany's highest medal for distinguished service, the Bavarian medal for distinguished service, as well as the title of Honorary Doctor of the Technische Universität in Munich. In addition, the universities of Erlangen, Munich and Würzburg appointed him as Honorary Senator, and in 1952 the city of Schweinfurt, his hometown, awarded him the title of Honorary Citizen of Schweinfurt.
In his lifetime, Georg Schäfer had already thought about establishing a museum for his collection. The first draft, by Ludwig van der Rohe, was made in 1964. After Georg Schäfer's death, his heirs took charge of the collection and, together with a scientific advisory-committee, made it possible for numerous exhibitions to take place. In the beginning of the 1990-ies, drafts were made by Alexander and Emanuela Branca for the accomodation of the collection in a historical building in Schweinfurt, known as 'Ebracher Hof' - which is opposite today's museum.
The heirs established a foundation for the major part of the collection, which took on legal capacity in 1977. It's inventory of works became the basis of the Georg Schäfer Museum. The goal of the foundation is to preserve and strengthen the efficacy of the museum, and to keep alive the merits of the collector, Georg Schäfer.
The City and the State
Thanks to the efforts of the Mayor of Schweinfurt, Gudrun Grieser, the State of Bavaria provided the financial means to build a museum for the Georg Schäfer Collection. The city of Schweinfurt, on it's part, made a suitable plot of land available ( at the entrance to the city, on it's south side ) directly behind the Town Hall and is in charge of the construction and the management of the museum. The building itself is owned by the State of Bavaria.
The efforts of all the participants made it possible for the collection to be opened to the public.
Carl Spitzweg: Der strickende Wachtposten, um 1855