Since 1913, the Franconian Luitpoldmuseum had existed in the Maxstraße at Würzburg. After the destruction of the building in 1945, Max H. von Freeden built the Main-Franconian Museum on the Marienberg fortress from 1946. Hanswernfried Muth, Hans-Peter Trenschel and Claudia Lichte, as his successors, further developed the museum.
Originally, a municipal institution, the museum was supported by the city of Würzburg and by the Lower-Franconian cultural endowment in the form of a special purpose association from 2003 to 2016. It has been sponsored by the Free State of Bavaria since January 2017. Under the title of "Museum für Franken - Staatliches Museum für Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte in Würzburg" (Museum for Franconia - State Museum for Art and Cultural History in Würzburg) and under the direction of Erich Schneider, the museum now focuses on the whole of Franconia including the history of Würzburg and expands its collection to the present day.
The archaeological collection contains over 1,000 exhibits from the Palaeolithic to the late Middle Ages. The discovery of a human tooth chain is unique for the cult and burial customs of the Neolithic Age. The rich hoard discoveries from the "urnfield" period are also worth mentioning as well as the most important piece in the collection: the miniature bronze version of a cauldron cart from around 1,000 BC.
Tilman Riemenschneider's sculptures form the centre of the collection. As an important wood carver and sculptor of the German late-Gothic period, he operated a large workshop in Würzburg between 1485 and 1531. With around 80 sculptures, reliefs and other works, the Museum für Franken owns the world's most comprehensive collection of Riemenschneider’s works. All fields of his activity are represented: architectural sculpture in stone, wooden altar figures, small-size sculptures and profane works.
The Department of Civic History at the Museum für Franken has been integrated into the Museum of Princely Palaces at the Marienberg Fortress since 1992 and deals with the history of Würzburg from the eighth century onwards. Worth a mention are the two large models of the city which depict "Würzburg around 1525" as well as the ruined city centre after the 16 May 1945 respectively.
Highlights of the collection are the furniture of the court carpenter Carl Maximilian Mattern as well as the faience collection. The large numbers of Ansbach faiences of the so-called "Green Family" as well as outstanding examples of Nuremberg "Hausmalerkrüge" (earthenware decorated by independent artisans) need to be mentioned. Also worthy of notice are works in wrought-iron from the residence of Johann Georg Oegg and the collection of clocks among which are celebrities such as the tower clock, the oldest parts of which date from the fourteenth century.
The collection of graphic arts is primarily oriented on topography. Detailed and general views of Würzburg from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries are almost complete. The most important group is the Eckert collection of plans from the workshop of Balthasar Neumann. Views of Franconia from the nineteenth century and documents about the destruction of Würzburg in 1945 form a further focal point.