Mannheim: Technoseum offers interactive explanations of how things work
By DAN BLOTTENBERGER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 16, 2011
The Technoseum in Mannheim, Germany, is like walking into the literary world of David Macaulay’s “The Way Things Work.” Visitors can enjoy a hands-on experience with many of the museum’s exhibitions.
If you’ve ever been curious about how cars, trains or even nuclear power plants operate or are built, it is explained visually at the Technoseum. Or, if your curiosity is less ambitious, you can see the first version of a tanning bed or challenge yourself and a friend to figure out Morse Code messages.
You can also examine the skeleton of a factory building billowing pollution into the air. Basic science experiments — testing your reaction time and understanding how your body responds to temperatures — are enjoyable for all ages.
From viewing Model-T cars to operating a telephone switchboard, there are exhibits to capture the attention of young and old. The museum stays pretty busy throughout the week with schoolchildren converging there for class trips.
Almost all the exhibits have video and written explanations, but they are in German only. The museum’s guides, strategically placed to keep an eye on the children, are available to answer questions, and most of them speak English.
One of the main exhibitions in the center of the museum is an old, full-size train, in which guests can take a short ride four times a day: at 11 a.m. and noon, and 2 and 3 p.m.
Formerly known as the Landesmuseum für Technik und Arbeit, the museum boasts about 9,000 square meters (nearly 97,000 square feet) of technological exhibitions on five floors. Each level of the museum can be accessed via elevator or by walking up stairs and ramps.
Across the street from the Technoseum is the Luisenpark, Mannheim’s city park. The park is a relaxing conclusion to a day full of playing with museum exhibits. Playgrounds (indoor and outdoor), a building housing tropical plants and animals, a Chinese tea house and animals — including penguins — are just some of the park’s features. Cable-pulled boats take visitors on a tour of the park’s lake.
The epicenter of the park is a tower with a rotating restaurant atop it that offers a view of the city. If you need a snack, the park has a dozen or so snack stands to tame your hunger.
From Heidelberg, take Autobahn 656 toward Mannheim. The highway becomes B37, with signs for Mannheim-Zentrum. The Technoseum is on the right. GPS address: Museumsstr. 1, 68165 Mannheim.
From Kaiserslautern, take Autobahn 6 toward Mannheim. At the Viernheimer Dreieck, veer right onto A6 toward Stuttgart/Basel/Karlsruhe/Mannheim. Take exit 27 toward A656. At the fork, keep to the right and follow signs for Mannheim-Mitte/Mannheim-Neckarau/A656. Merge onto A656, which becomes B37, following signs for Mannheim-Zentrum. The museum is on the right.
Entry to Luisenpark is across the street from the museum next to the soccer arena and Chinese restaurant.
Parking is located in front of the museum. Look for the blue parking signs.
The Technoseum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Closed Dec. 24 and 31.
An old paddle wheel boat outside the museum can be explored 2-6 p.m. daily.
The Luisenpark is open daily 9 a.m. until dark.
Entrance to the Technoseum is 6 euros for adults. Parents with children pay a group rate of 12 euros. The paddle wheel boat costs 2 euros per person.
Entrance to Luisenpark costs 5 euros for adults and 3 euros for children older than 5.
Food is available at Müllers Restaurant & Cafe-Lounge inside the museum. There is also a Chinese buffet across the street from the museum. The park has several snack stands and a rotating restaurant atop its tower.
Nothing inside the museum is in English, but most of the museum guides speak English and can lead visitors through the various devices and games.
Or better yet, bring a German friend.