【DE】Nuremberg Exhibition Center: Inauguration 50 years ago

At the start of the new trade fair year 2023, Messeplatz Nürnberg looks back on a round anniversary, because on the 10th January 1973, the inauguration of the exhibition center took place in the Langwasser district. Trade fairs, congresses and corporate events have been held at the Nuremberg Exhibition Center for 50 years now. The multifunctional halls in the then new district of Langwasser set an innovative counterpoint to Nuremberg, which was previously known primarily because of its old town. “The courageous step of the then city council can now be seen as one of the most important moments for the opening of Nuremberg as an international business location,” explains Lord Mayor Marcus König: “With the construction of the exhibition center, we as a city have laid the foundation for the later success story of our NürnbergMesse at this time.” As a trade fair company, today’s NürnbergMesse GmbH only celebrates on the 5th. April 2024 her 50th Birthday – on that day, the entry as a legal entity in the commercial register took place.



Inauguration 50 years ago: View of the Nuremberg exhibition center in the Langwasser district in 1973

The new exhibition center in the immediate vicinity of Kongresshalle, Zeppelinfeld and the ensemble of the former Reich Party Congress site of the NSDAP also underlines today’s responsibility of the Franconian trade fair company: “The scope of the location choice at the time and the associated historical dimension is also an obligation for us to deal with the history of the place appropriately Roland Fleck. His CEO colleague Peter Ottmann adds: “In view of the many international encounters at trade fairs and congresses at this point since 1973, hardly any better place could be found that underlines the cosmopolitan, economically strong and thus international side of the city of Nuremberg.”


Toy fair set the pace


The driving force for the decision to build a new exhibition center in Nuremberg was the development of the International Toy Fair at the end of the 1960s. The later leading trade fair took place for the first time in Nuremberg in 1950. Her choice of location fell on Nuremberg, which had a long-standing toy tradition. The “German Toy Fair” developed into the “International Toy Fair” and recorded new exhibitor and visitor records every year. Despite ever new extension buildings at the original location on Bayreuther Straße at Nürnberger Stadtpark, there was a constant shortage of space. In addition to the toy industry, AFAG (Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Messen und Ausstellungen GmbH) around its founder and director Helmuth Könicke has also organized trade and public fairs on this site since 1952.


The venue was the “old trade fair” not far from the Nuremberg city park with the “Wieselerhaus” opened in 1923 as the stock exchange building of the Nuremberg Confederation. To this day, the street designation “Am Messehaus” in Nuremberg’s northeast points to the old trade fair location. The Nuremberg Confederation, founded in 1901 as an association of retailers in the fields of glass, porcelain and luxury goods, already held its goods exhibitions there as “shopping exchanges” in the 1920s.


City Council sets important course for Nuremberg as a trade fair location


In February 1969, a large majority of the city council voted to seriously consider the construction of a new exhibition center, which was to hold the successful toy fair in Nuremberg and offered potential for the settlement of new trade fairs. After weighing up different locations, the choice fell on the area of today’s exhibition center. The good transport connections to the motorway as well as in the direction of the city center were advantageous here, the subway in the direction of the newly emerging district of Langwasser had already been under construction since 1967 and was opened on the 1st. March 1972 as a subway station Langwasser-Süd, and there were also sufficient space available for parking spaces. On the 4th February 1970, the Nuremberg City Council unanimously decided to start concrete plans for a new exhibition center for this location. By city council decision of the 17th February 1971 Messehallen GmbH took over the sponsorship of the new exhibition center as an urban subsidiary together with the then Spielwarenmesse eGmbH. The Spielwarenmesse was to leave Messehallen GmbH the following year. On the 16th In June 1971, the city council finally decided on the first construction phase. The groundbreaking ceremony will take place on the 20th. September 1971.


Successful baptism of fire


After just under 16 months of construction and an investment volume of around DM 100 million, the new exhibition center was finally closed on the 10th. January 1973 by Nuremberg’s then Lord Mayor Dr. Andreas Urschlechter as part of a New Year’s reception. Now around 60,000 square meters of exhibition space were available in ten halls as well as extensive service and open spaces.


His baptism of fire consisted of the new exhibition center with the 24th. International Toy Fair from 3rd to 9th February 1973. While it started 23 years earlier with 351 exhibitors on around 3,200 square meters of space in Nuremberg, more than 1,560 exhibitors from 34 countries now offered around 70,000 square meters of their products. The second construction phase with an extension by 20,000 square meters of hall space and a multi-purpose hall was already being planned at this time.


View: 50. Birthday of NürnbergMesse 2024


However, the organizational starting signal for the Nuremberg trade fair system, as it is still set up today, was not given until 1974. At that time, the city of Nuremberg founded the “Nuremberg Trade Fair and Exhibition Company” as the legal successor of Messehallen GmbH, in which the Spielwarenmesse was involved until 1972. The constituent meeting of the Supervisory Board took place on the 20th. March 1974. With the entry in the commercial register on the 5th April 1974, the reorganization process was completed and NürnbergMesse GmbH was born. Today, NürnbergMesse is one of the 15 largest trade fair companies in the world. The Nuremberg Exhibition Center today comprises 16 exhibition halls with a total of around 180,000 square meters of exhibition space and 50,000 square meters of open space. This also includes the NürnbergConvention Center (NCC), which offers space for congresses and corporate events with up to 12,800 visitors. The nationally known “Frankenhalle” can accommodate up to 5,000 visitors at festive events and television shows.


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