German Oceanographic Museum, Stralsund, Germany

The German Oceanographic Museum (German: Deutsche Meeresmuseum) in the Hanseatic town of Stralsund is a museum in which maritime and oceanographic exhibitions are displayed. It is the most visited museum in North Germany. In addition to the main museum building, the actual Oceanographic Museum, there are three other sites, the Ozeaneum, opened in July 2008, the Nautineum and the Natureum. The main house is located in the hall of the former St. Catherine’s Church. The Oceanographic Museum has many exhibitions with information on fishing, the environment and marine conservation, on marine and ocean research, flora and fauna of the Baltic Sea region, and, just under 50 aquaria contain more than 600 living sea creatures, including giant tortoises and Polynesian fish.

The main house is located in the hall of the former St. Catherine’s Church. The Oceanographic Museum has many exhibitions with information on fishing, the environment and marine conservation, on marine and ocean research, flora and fauna of the Baltic Sea region, and, just under 50 aquaria contain more than 600 living sea creatures, including giant tortoises and Polynesian fish.

In the Ozeaneum, which opened on 11 July 2008 on Stralsund’s harbour island, there are 39 large aquaria with 7,000 animals from the Baltic Sea, North Sea and Atlantic Ocean, as well as the world’s largest exhibition of whales.

From 1957 the Museum of Natural History was transformed into a Museum of Oceanography and Fisheries and significantly expanded. Sonnfried Streicher, the successor to the founder of the museum, Otto Dibbelt, conceives and manages the renovation. In 1958, the museum was established District Natural History Museum and from 1965 marine biological exhibitions. In 1966 the museum was renamed “Meereskundliches Museum Stralsund” and in 1968 the first parts of the sea aquarium were built in the cellar. The former monastery church was generally restored in the years 1972 to 1974 and rebuilt into an exhibition hall and steeled Strebewerk, which creates floors in the hall. In 1974, the “Maritime Museum – Museum of Oceanography and Fisheries” was opened and in 1975 the marine aquariums in the Katharinenhalle. For the 750th anniversary of the founding of the city of Stralsund, the marine aquarium’s expansion section was opened in 1984 with a 50,000 liter and a 30,000 liter aquarium.

The attic was extended in 1986 and henceforth houses the depot for the museum’s scientific collections. The first part of the exhibition Man and the Sea upstairs was opened in 1989. In the same year, a visitors’ room with 15 aquaria and the museum café were opened and the extension for aquarium technology was completed. On 4 November 1993, the Baltic Sea Division was reopened in the marine aquarium.

The until then urban marine museum was transferred in 1993/1994 in the “Foundation German Museum of Oceanography and Fisheries”.

In 1995, a scientific experimental and breeding facility was built and the preparation workshops were modernized. In the same year Harald Benke took over the management of the museum. The foundation will be in October 1998 in “German Maritime Museum, Museum of Oceanography and Fisheries. Renamed aquarium “.

On July 16, 1999, the reconstructed and redesigned North Sea Aquarium was reopened. On January 30, 2004, a multi-purpose building was opened on the visit courtyard housing the 350,000-liter sea turtle aquarium and the museum bistro. On July 17, 2009, the Mediterranean aquarium was opened.

In October 2016, a concept for the transformation of the Maritime Museum was presented. Thereafter, the museum is to make life in the oceans through a “tour” along the equator. For the reconstruction of the exhibitions, 30 million euros are planned. After an architectural competition in 2017, construction work is scheduled to begin in September 2019, and the museum will be reopened in May 2022 after closure from spring 2020.

Since its foundation in 1951, the museum has been located in the former St. Catherine’s Monastery, which has not been used as church since the Reformation. In order to preserve the original building, a self-supporting steel structure was installed in the 1970s, which also allows flexible heights in the spatial design of the exhibition.

Spatially the museum is subdivided into the forecourt surrounded by a wall and the museum buildings, the three-storey exhibition hall (former monastery church), the Baltic Sea exhibition in the central building (former winter refectory and chapter house), the sea aquariums in the basement, the museum shop in the west wing (former religious school), the sea turtle aquarium in the new building as well as in the premises for the preparation of the exhibits, the building of the management, technical supply facilities, working rooms of the scientists and the “Forum Maritime Museum”.

The cutter SAS 95 “Adolf Reichwein” stands on the expansive forecourt, which is filled with visitors at the entrance during particularly busy periods. The woodcutter was built in 1949 on the Boddenwerft in Damgarten and was one of the first cutters of the GDR deep-sea fishery. Until 1969 he was on the Baltic and North Sea in use and was transferred in 1973 to the Museumshof.

On a wall in the entrance area is a knowledge test of the route to the European brick Gothic with numerous questions and answers.

Exhibition Hall:
The former monastery church is divided into three levels by means of a space-bar construction. On the ground floor there is a model (section) of the former church with its steel framework.

The German Maritime Museum offers six permanent exhibitions: “Oceanography and Marine Biology”, “Whales”, “History of Fisheries”, “East German Fisheries”, “Man and the Sea” and “Baltic Sea Coast”. In addition, information about Hermann Burmeister and his research will be presented in the nearby Burmeister House. Special exhibitions and traveling exhibitions complete the museum offer.

North Courtyard
Before visiting Oceanographic Museum, visitors enter the north courtyard. The fishing cutter ADOLF REICHWEIN stands right in the yard’s centre. It has been one of Oceanographic Museum’s landmarks for over 40 years. The museum’s yard is accessible through two gates – from Mönchstraße and from Bielkenhagen. A showcase at the corner of both streets gives information about porpoises and intends to arouse the visitor’s interest in the other oceanographic exhibitions.

Oceanography and marine biology
When entering Oceanographic Museum, your first impression will be dominated by the Gothic architecture and an uncommon self-supporting steel framework installation. It separates the interior of the three-aisled Gothic hall church into three exhibition levels. This installation does not touch the historic building structure and allows many interesting perspectives. The tour starts with a multifaceted exhibition on oceanography and marine biology.

A seven meter long relief section of the North Atlantic between New York and Lisbon shows the shape of the seabed with its deep-sea plains, mountains and ditches. Graphics teach the basics of plate tectonics and oceans development. On a twelve-square-meter, 200-million-year-old limestone slab from a limestone quarry near Rüdersdorf near Berlin, about 2,300 shells of various fossil shells have survived. Remains of cephalopods can be seen on a polished limestone slab of Öland. In a one cubic meter glass cube the salt content of sea water is demonstrated by means of a 35 kilogram.

Various models of research vessels, such as the French “Pourquoi-pas?” (1908), the German “Meteor” (1922) and the “Professor Albrecht Penck” and the dive boat “Trieste”, testify to the efforts of the people, the seas and to explore the deep sea. A presentation board and a staging of the deep-sea world also illustrate life in misanthropic depths. Three tropical aquariums and a Mediterranean aquarium show crabs, crabs, starfish and other invertebrates next to coral reefs.

A groomed young gray seal and a seal illustrate information about these animals. Also on display is an 800-year-old mummified crabeater seal. From 1926, the skeleton of a manatee comes in the same showcase. They as well as the skeleton and the face mask of a sea elephant are gifts of the Wittenberger Ethnographic Museum. The face mask is the only one preserved from a bull prepared by Karl Kästner in 1936, which came from the Berlin Zoo and was about 2,000 kilograms and 4.50 meters long. Another theme of the exhibition are bone and cartilaginous fish such as swordfish and tiger shark. Also on display are prepared dolphins and the skeleton of a porpoise.

The special attention of the maritime museum applies to the stony corals. On the ground floor of the hall, these cnidarians are shown; In addition, a nine-meter high section of a coral reef. The coral sticks and the animal exhibits depicting the replicated reef were collected during expeditions of museum staff in 1976 and 1979 in the Red Sea. This reef was restored from 2011 and partly redesigned.

Whales and Dolphins
In the choir of St. Catherine’s hall visitors stand under the 15-metre-long skeleton of a fin whale that was salvaged off Hiddensee in 1825. A bottlenose whale whose skeleton is also displayed in the hall

History of fishing
For millennia – at least since the Stone Age – fishing has been a human practice. Simple catching devices and techniques for inshore fishing were refined in the years to follow. Several display cases show catching devices, fishing equipment and documents from the 19th and the first half of the 20th century.

The permanent exhibition “History of Fisheries” will be presented on the first floor of the museum hall. The fishing history of antiquarian and medieval fishermen goes back to the history of fishing. Next to vintage equipment and documents from the 19th century, it is the best documented age of 20th century fishing. Models of fishing vessels, whose originals are shown as the Zeesboot STR 9 in the Nautineum, as well as an original beach boat from Breege testify to the transition to industrial fishing.

On display are harpoons, fishhooks, and reef baskets, as well as a rebuilt dugout, the model of a herringboat, fishing gear, and the model of the “Steinbutt” fish steamer.

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In some showcases the methods of coastal fishing on the Baltic coast of Western Pomerania are shown on the basis of exhibits from the islands of Rügen and Usedom, as well as Fischland and Darß. A model of a Außenstrandreuse shows their functioning. Another exhibit is a made of synthetic fibers net.

Man and Sea
The exhibition starts with an allegory: On one side you see a coral reef untouched by man, vibrant, colourful and full of diversity – on the other side there is a reef that is damaged and sick. This is meant to illustrate the exposition’s central theme: “A healthy ocean is the precondition for life on planet earth!” The display includes the following impressive exhibits.

In the “Kindergarten of Emperor Penguins” groomed Emperor Penguins can be seen. The exhibition also includes a bathy probe from the research vessel Valdivia, as well as the model of the research vessel Glomar Challenger. Also shown are preparations of 100 herring in a school of fish, a god salmon and a sunfish.

A leather turtle prepared in 1965 in the Maritime Museum, which weighs 450 kilograms during his lifetime, is as much a part of this part of the museum as information on the life and reproduction of sea turtles. Sturgeons and coelacanths bear witness to man’s threat to the sea creatures. A model of a Japanese giant crab as well as moonfish and salmon show the diversity of the inhabitants of the water, which makes up 70% of the earth’s surface. Latest exhibit is a prepared polar bear. Impressive are also the models of a walrus, an octopus and seals.

Deep Sea Hall
Enter the twilight of the Deep Sea Hall, see bizarre sea creatures and learn about the specifics of the deep-sea biosphere. Who would have thought that a dead whale sunken to the bottom of the sea can serve as an energy source for deep sea sharks, hagfish and giant isopods for up to 60 years? Watch the unique life-size model of a vampire squid and other exciting exhibits at Oceanographic Museum’s new Deep Sea Hall.

Baltic Sea beaches
Typical beach sceneries of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern’s Baltic Sea coast are displayed in four showcases.

A diorama shows the three seal species Gray Seal, Ringed Seal and Common Seal that occur in the Baltic Sea. Another diorama shows a porpoise washed up on a beach; other dioramas and showcases show the birdlife and bird migration on the coast.

The exhibition was changed compared to the previous exhibition after 2010 and adapted to the museum requirements.

There is an eye-catching house at the corner of Mönchstraße and Böttcherstraße, opposite St. Catherine’s hall – painted yellow with blue-green window frames and a Gothic brick gable. An open door welcomes you to the Burmeister Memorial. Prof. Dr. Hermann Burmeister, the famous German-Argentine natural scientist, was born in Stralsund. His birthplace once stood just feet away at Böttcherstraße 9. It could not be preserved and was demolished, so the German Marine Museum acquired the untenanted, ramshackle condemned house at Mönchstraße 45 in 1987.

Special exhibitions
Oceanographic Museum regularly features special exhibitions, i.e. photo exhibitions or other expositions that always have an oceanographic or scientific background. If you happen to know an exciting special exhibition or would like to show an exhibition at our premises, please contact exhibition coordinator Dr. Thomas Förster.

Travelling exhibitions
The German Marine Museum has designed multiple special exhibitions that are now travelling through partner institutions. If you would like to show an exciting travelling exhibition at your premises, please contact our exhibition coordinator.

The aquariums:
In the Maritime Museum, the aquariums are divided into four sections: Tropical Aquarium, Mediterranean Aquarium, Sharks and Turtles. Except for four small aquariums in the entrance area, the basins are in the basement vault.

The keeping of marine animals was preceded by extensive research on seawater. Especially the Challenger Expedition from 1872 to 1876 brought important insights into the composition of seawater. Since the Stralsund Museum does not have direct access to the ocean and therefore the required seawater, North Sea water with a salt content of approximately 33 ‰ was used; Since 1990, seawater has been artificially produced, using industrially produced sea salt mixtures. By comparison, the salinity of the Baltic Sea before Rügen is about 8 ‰, that of open oceans 35 ‰.

The water for the hot water area is heated up to 25 ° C. Partly the temperatures of the aquariums are adjusted analogously to the natural course of the year. Many of the aquariums in the exhibition are grouped into a water cycle. Not visible to the visitors of the maritime museum are enormous clean water chambers and filter chambers. By means of circulating pumps, the water is passed through filters at least every two hours, where the organic suspended matter is collected. The pre-filters are cleaned daily. The water passed through the filters then passes into the pure water chambers, where it is returned to the required temperature and again directed by means of circulating pumps via protein skimmers in the Schaubecken.

The required quality of water can only be guaranteed in aquariums by accompanying measures. While excretions of animals in the sea, for example, are useful for plankton, they can quickly poison the water, invisible to the viewer. Therefore, the pH and the redox potential must be constantly measured. A drop in quality is counteracted for example by adding sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate or by using UV light. Striking is the low stocking of algae. This is because many of the fish eat up the algae. In addition, the fish must be protected with drugs against skin parasites; These drugs counteract algae growth.

Tropical Aquarium:
This section represents the oldest surviving part of the aquariums. Eye catcher in this section is the basin 18, which, with a capacity of 50,000 liters, is the second largest in the museum. Here, in addition to moray eels, triggerfish and porcupine fish, various species of shark, such as bamboo and marten shark, are a home. In the aquariums live the poisonous lionfish and stone fish, cleaner fish, seahorses, cuttlefish and pear boats.

In this area u. a. Soft and hard corals presented, a show basin shows symbioses between anemone fish and reef anemones.

Mediterranean Aquarium:
In this collection of pools, certain fish, coral species and invertebrates of the Mediterranean are shown. Thus, a port, a rock wall and a lobster-studded rock are shown in the aquariums.

In a round basin, a coral reef is modeled, live in it Flammenfahnenbarsche, surgeon fish, badger faces and gobies. Other aquarium inhabitants are white-banded and cardinal shrimps, disc anemones, wrasses and angelfish.

The second largest aquarium in the Marine Museum, with a capacity of 50,000 liters, shows the fish of tropical coral reefs, such as bamboo sharks, marten sharks, moray eels, triggerfish, puffer fish, porcupine fish, surgeon fish and mackerel.

Sea turtles:
The 350,000-liter largest aquarium of the Maritime Museum was opened in January 2004 and is home to turtles. It is designed as a coral reef and also offers an artificial beach, which is to serve the turtles for oviposition. In addition to the turtles, coral fish live in this aquarium and, since 2005, blacktip reef sharks.

Historical-Oceanographic Yearbook:
The “Historical-Oceanographic Yearbook” is an annual series dedicated to the history of marine research of the German Maritime Museum (DMM) and the German Society for Marine Research (DGM). From 1992 to 2012, 17 volumes have been published.

Research objects of the employees of the Maritime Museum are, for example, the fauna of coral reefs in the Red Sea, marine fish, seals and whales. Together with other institutes, national and international research projects are conducted. Results of this research are presented in exhibitions and in the official publications of the museum.

Visitor numbers:
The museum was visited in GDR times annually by up to 900,000 guests. After the accession of the GDR to the Federal Republic, the flow of visitors went back, but visited in 1990 still 500,000 guests the museum and made it the most visited in the whole of northern Germany.

By 2001, twenty million visitors had been counted. On July 14, 1981, the museum, which at that time still had no field offices, scored its record number of visitors: 13,079 guests visited the exhibitions. After the turnaround, 8,269 visitors were counted on July 21, 2005, the majority of day visitors. On average, around 600,000 people visit the exhibitions each year in Stralsund’s city center, as well as on Dänholm and Darß.

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