Please find detailed press releases about the museum locations of the German Oceanographic Museum below. They are intended to give a quick overview of the museum’s development since its opening until now.
All press releases can also be downloaded from the menu on the page’s right.
(February 2018) On July 11 2008, German Chancellor Angela Merkel inaugurated OZEANEUM located on Stralsund’s harbour island – the biggest newly-constructed museum at the time funded by the state. Behnisch Architects had designed a building that would give the UNESCO World Heritage town of Stralsund and its historical cityscape a distinct contemporary touch.
Counting over half a million visitors each year, OZEANEUM has become a first-rate tourist magnet. The museum is run as a non-profit Limited Liability Company and does not receive any funding. In May 2010, OZEANEUM was awarded “Europe’s Museum of the Year 2010”. The building’s structure is made up of four amorphously formed building complexes that resemble rocks being washed around by the sea. Each complex is connected by one light-flooded foyer made of glass. When entering the building, three original whale skeletons already catch the visitor’s eye. An unsupported escalator leads to the exhibition areas. It is 34 metres long – as long as a blue whale. About 50 partly huge sea water aquaria will take the visitor on a unique journey through the underwater world of the northern seas. The discovery tour starts with Stralsund’s harbour basin in the Baltic Sea aquarium. All the way through bodden waters and eelgrass meadows, past the chalk coast and across Scandinavia’s Archipelago Sea, the visitors experience the diverse local flora and fauna.
The biggest fish on display on the Baltic Sea tour are sturgeons which are shown in their natural habitat – the mouth of a river. In the spring of 2013, OZEANEUM’s aquarists succeeded in breeding common jellyfish for the first time. Since then, these fascinating beauties can be marvelled at independent of the seasons in the Baltic Sea exhibition. Meanwhile, compass jellyfish have also been successfully bred.
The tanks of the North Sea aquarium show the biosphere of the North Sea and the North Atlantic. An elaborately designed tunnel aquarium is dedicated to Heligoland, Germany’s only rocky island. OZEANEUM’s largest tank contains 2.6 million litres of water. It is part of the “Open Atlantic” display and is home to schools of mackerel, an almost three-metres-long sand tiger shark, two nurse sharks and various species of rays. Two 20-ton acrylic panes, each 30 centimetres thick, provide an 80-square-metres panoramic view on two levels. Since 2015, specially built aquaria display cold water corals. In front of and behind the scenes, more than 4 million litres of water permanently rush through
the aquaria’s water circulation systems. The initial filling of the tanks required 150 tons of salt. According to the exhibition organisers’ concept, the aquaria are the living completion of all five exhibitions and their numerous original and rare pieces put on display such as various self-made zoological and botanical preserved specimens. OZEANEUM also presents Europe’s biggest Baltic Sea exhibition including a plankton installation, a Baltic Sea relief to touch and elaborately arranged typical living environments displayed in large, triangular showcases.
A permanent exhibition on the Exploration and Utilisation of the Sea as conceived by the German Marine Research Consortium, the World Wide Fund for Nature and other partners was opened in July 2011. Among others, it involves a deep-sea diving trip, shows original exhibits and focuses on aspects of German marine research as well as overfishing and methods of sustainable fishing.
Further expositions show the biodiversity of the world oceans or feature a more hands-on approach to marine life for children at the Children’s Sea area, which was completely redone in 2017. One of the main attractions is the Humboldt penguins on the museum’s roof terrace. These agile feathered swimmers can be observed through large windows. Visitors may witness the daily commented penguin feeding at 12:00 am and enjoy a unique view of Stralsund’s old town from a height of 14 metres at the same time. Four penguin chicks hatched in the spring of 2017. Dr. Angela Merkel, bestselling author Frank Schätzing and other supporters took on animal sponsorships for these endangered animals.
The 1:1 Giants of the Seas exhibition in cooperation with Greenpeace is truly breathtaking: Several life-size whale models float under the ceiling. The biggest is a true to the original 26-metres-long blue whale. The exhibition also shows a plunging sperm whale fighting with a giant squid, an orca and a humpback whale beside her young. Everything culminates in a spectacular multimedia show with humpback whale songs or the sperm whale’s clicking that helps them detect their prey at a depth of up to 3,000 metres. Real-life models of a manta ray and an ocean sunfish are on display as well.
OZEANEUM also welcomes visitor groups and provides a wide range of educational offers for school classes, preschools or day nurseries. During the summer months, pedagogically trained staff members go on “Become a Beach Detective!” tour at the beaches of the region where children and teenagers can playfully discover the local flora and fauna directly on the beach. One aim is to draw the youngsters’ attention to the ever-increasing littering of the oceans with plastic waste. OZEANEUM is certified as family-friendly by the Mecklenburg-West Pomeranian tourist association and barrier-free by the German seminar for tourism.
By: OZEANEUM Stralsund
(Last updated: April 2017) The Meeresmuseum in Stralsund’s old town has been housed since 1951 in the former Dominican monastery of St. Katharine and is thus the oldest site of the Stiftung Deutsches Meeresmuseum (Foundation of German Marine Museums). Before being used as a museum, Katharinenhalle served as an armory and a school, among other things. The monastery was founded in 1251, and is referenced in an inscription on the choir stalls of the former Dominican monastery in Roebel, which says “Sundensis 1251.” In 1951, the Naturkundemuseum (Natural History Museum) that was founded by Otto Dibbelt moved into Katherinenhalle, which was completely refurbished from 1972 to 1974. During this process, the building’s extraordinary mullions were built, resulting in three exhibit levels that enable the museum to install extensive exhibitions.
The ground floor, whose lighting is kept relatively low, contains some of the tropical aquariums, as well as exhibits about marine biology and oceanography. There’s also a fascinating 200 million year old fossilized seabed and an original 1.4 meter long giant ammonite Pachydiscus. The ground floor is also devoted to the wondrous world of corals, via a nine meter high glass case that is probably the largest such case in any German museum and features a coral reef in 3D. The extensively and realistically restored reef pillars enable visitors to discover the complex ecosystem of coral reefs and all their various organisms and particularities. Plus every 20 minutes, visitors can experience the timeline of a coral reef via our sound and light installation.
What is for many observers the most magnificent space in the former St. Katherine monastery is located here: the former choir loft. The impressive skeleton of a finback “floats” beneath the vaulted ceiling; it measures 15 meters in length and weighs about 1000 kg. The skeleton is suspended from steel cables, which are practically invisible against the backdrop of the Gothic vaulted ceiling. Few visitors realize that the original treadwheel is located up above that the monks used to hoist heavy loads into their storage room.
The second floor is devoted to fisheries. This level of the museum also affords visitors a particularly good view of the historic of structure of the building. Along the Gothic columns, you can see that the exhibits’ mullions are almost free standing, except for a handful of elements fastening the mullions to the walls. An authentic Strandboot (original fishing boat) is an impressive presence in the midst of the fisheries exhibit. If you look beyond the ship’s rigged sail, your gaze is drawn to the magnificent Gothic vault above.
The third level, which is devoted to the theme of “Man and the Sea”, contains what are probably the museum’s most beautiful exhibits and specimens, all of which were made in the museum’s own workshops. While there, you should also look up toward the ceiling, particularly when you come to the turtle display case. The next stop on the tour is the deep sea room, where you’ll find the deep sea expedition exhibit featuring models of lantern fish, authentic deep sea fish specimens, and a three-times life-size replica of Vampire Hell – the only exhibit of its kind in Germany.
In April 2017, two rooms devoted to “Uses of the sea – from the deep sea to the polar regions” opened. These rooms feature rarely exhibited authentic specimens and fascinating models, including of a black smoker and a Beluga whale with calf. This exhibit was supported by Germany’s Ministry of Education and Research in connection with a program known as Science Years 2016*17 Seas and Oceans.
From the deep sea room, proceed to the geology room and its educational exhibits. Then go past the glass enclosed classroom to the basement aquarium. Here you’ll find denizens of the Mediterranean such as morays crayfish, wrasse, perches and rays, as well as Mediterranean tropical fish such as colorful coral fish, seahorses, and anemonefish also known as “Nemos”.Of particular interest is the 50,000 liter shark tank containing leopard sharks, butterfly fish, and triggerfish.
Not to be missed is the 350,000 liter aquarium, where three different species of sea turtles live. This massive MEERESMUSEUM tank, with its 25 square meter glass front, is an ideal place to watch the turtles being fed, and observe their behavior during their weekly dip in the water.