Seven little-known German museums with brilliant ideas

Alexandra Ball
Alexandra Ball - [email protected]
Seven little-known German museums with brilliant ideas
Bottles of eau de Cologne from 1830, shown at the Fragrance Museum in Cologne. Photo: DPA

From spies to mechanical musical instruments, Germany has a lot to offer in seven of its museums.


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1. Museum of stillness, Berlin

The Museum contrasts bright red walls with white 3D sculptures. Photo: Museum der Stille

This museum is focused on making you feel relaxed and contemplative.

Here you can observe the works of Nikolai Makarov, an artist whose work encourages viewers to reach a meditative state. 

Described by arts patron and supporter of the museum Peter Raue as a ‘secular prayer room’, museum provides a calm environment in Germany's capital city. 

2. Fragrance museum, Cologne

Bottles of eau de Cologne from 1830 at the Fragrance Museum, Cologne. Photo: DPA

Ever wondered why some perfumes are called ‘Cologne’? Prepare to have your mind blown.

The Fragrance Museum in the Rhineland city of Cologne takes you through 300 years of the history of fragrance and the work the perfumer Johann Maria Farina (1685-1766).

3. Siegfried's Mechanical Music Cabinet, Rüdesheim on Rhine

A gramophone and phonographs are explained to guests on a tour. Photo: Siegfrieds Mechanisches Musikkabinett

This charming museum allows you to enjoy sweet tunes played by the instruments themselves as you embark on a 45-minute tour of 350 self-playing instruments from across three centuries.

You’ll need to book to a guided tour to experience the history and sound of these beautiful machines, as the guide operates the instruments for you as you progress through the museum. 

4. German hygiene museum, Dresden

An employee of the German hygiene Museum looks at a model of a chromosone, which is part of the 'living and dying' theme of the permanent exhibition. Photo: DPA

No, it’s not a museum solely based on the history of hand sanitizer. Rather, this museum and conference centre in Dresden exhibits historical and recent  scientific developments. 

The permanent exhibit focuses on the human body and health, whereas the temporary exhibitions deal with science and society, art and culture. For example, the current exhibitions present the themes language and shame.  

5. German spy museum, Berlin

The laser course allows you to test out your flexibility. Photo: ©Deutsches Spionagemuseum

The German spy museum is a new addition to the German museum scene, having only opened in 2015.

Located close to Potsdamer Platz, where the Berlin wall once sliced through the city, this interactive museum transports you to the shady world of espionage, enabling you you find out about the technology used by spies or wriggle your way through laser beams amongst other exhibits. 

6. Customs museum, Hamburg

Customs officers inspect smuggled cigarettes. Photo: DPA

Do not be fooled by the name, this museum is engaging even for those uninterested in financial matters!

In a building which itself used to be a customs office, you are transported from the days of the Romans to the customs laws of modern times, this museum will definitely make sure you're clued up on the world of international trade.

 7. German Emigration House,  Bremerhaven

A view of the harbour in Bremerhaven. Photo: DPA

This award-winning museum invites you to experience emigration to and from Germany, particularly focusing on the 7.2 million German emigrants who sailed from Bremerhaven to the USA to start their lives anew. 

On entry, visitors are provided with an iCard, an 'electronic boarding pass' which allows them to follow the individual journey of a person from the past 300 years, who either left Germany for the USA, or who moved to Germany to start a new life.

Not only this, but the museum offers assistance for those conducting research into their family history using online databases, and examines the influence of immigration to Germany on German popular culture.


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