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Universum Bremen – sustainable exhibition and financing concept

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The scientific experience museum “Universum Bremen” has become one of the city’s key features. In the context of Expo 2000 in Germany, the first part of the facility, the Science Center (Wal), was opened as a purely private-sector establishment. Over the last few years, more than 100,000 people a year have visited the 4000m² permanent exhibition, which covers the topics “Expedition Mankind”, “Expedition Earth” and “Expedition Cosmos”. In 2007, the Universum® was extended to include the “DiscovererPark” outside area and the cube-shaped “SchauBox”.

Declining visitor numbers are making it necessary to rethink the concept, which is going hand in hand with alterations to the buildings.

The work is being based on the “Universum Bremen Strategy 2015+” produced in 2012.
Alongside trends from the field of the communication of science, the concept describes the future thematic orientation of the permanent exhibition in the Universum/Wal. In future, there will be closer co-operation with schools and universities in order to further enhance the Universum’s profile as an out-of-school centre of learning and as a platform for a scientific dialogue. So far, the concept of the Universum® has been summed up as “go along, be amazed, find out”, but in future, it is to include “discover, understand, assess” and to contribute towards:

  • emancipation: learning from one another, young and old, general public and scientists.
  • participation: making it possible to take part in research, keeping people on board.
  • cohesion: reaching districts and schools, different groups in society, different levels of education.

The transformation

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The permanent exhibition and the three thematic levels will be retained, but will be redefined and redesigned in two stages. To start with, alterations will be made to the ground floor of the building and the topic of “Technology” will be realised on the first floor. In a second construction phase, the second floor will host the topic of “Life”, and the third floor will contain an exhibition area on “Nature”. The Cylinder, which currently links the various storeys, is to present a reflection on the research process as well as the relevance to society of science and research. This will reorient the thematic emphasis towards “Life, Nature and Technology”. The forward-looking issue of “Human Life”, with its many facets of health, demographic change, living in old age, will become a major focus.

Cooperation

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The Universum® Bremen will in future collaborate much more intensively with scientific establishments and researching companies in Bremen. The proximity to Bremen University, to non-university research institutes and to the companies in the technology park offers ideal conditions for this. By working together with the Universum® Bremen, the various partners can address all sorts of target groups, and not least can highlight the advantages enjoyed by Bremen as a base for research and study.

In future, a qualified dialogue on research orientations and the utilisation of research findings will gain in importance. The Universum® Bremen is the ideal platform for these participatory processes. The Universum® Bremen will expand the range of its educational services. Services covering the whole educational chain will make an important contribution towards emancipating the citizens. The involvement of residents from educationally disadvantaged areas will improve cohesion in the city.

New services, such as a ResearcherLab, will round off the existing educational services and thus open up access to science for all sections of the population.

The permanent exhibition

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The permanent exhibition will continue to enjoy central importance. It is being redesigned and will consist of three thematic areas (Technology, Life, Nature) once the rebuilding work is complete.
The facelift is starting with the theme of Technology. Like the other two thematic levels, it is subdivided into exploratory zones and in-depth zones. The exploratory zones host traditional hands-on exhibits. The in-depth zones, in contrast, present examples from ongoing research and product development; access to an understanding of them is gained via the exploratory zones.
The thematic structure of the Technology level will be shaped as follows: Mechanical World, Electrical World, Automated World, Digital World.

Symbol of science communication

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A scientific advisory board is being convened to broaden the range of services. The members of the advisory board are not only to discuss and develop the themes and content of the exhibitions, but also the educational services and the other communication activities.
Since it was set up, the Universum® Bremen has developed into a symbol of Bremen as a base for innovation and technology. The building has become a symbol of science communication in Bremen and is also a tourist attraction whose appeal reaches far beyond the city’s borders. The Universum® Bremen is a synonym not only for visits to the exhibition but also as a venue for numerous evening events and as an out-of-school learning centre.
The content of the future Universum® Bremen will be based on an analysis of the trends of science communication from the last 10 years and a vision of the future development of this theme.

Science centres are ideal venues for science communication and places in which a creative atmosphere for new developments, processes and dialogue emerges and is fostered. As neutral platforms – they are neither a scientific establishment nor an industrial company – they are highly credible and are positively associated with the passing on of education and knowledge. Science centres are therefore natural and desirable neutral platforms for a critical and long-term discussion process.
By addressing the themes of the future, the re-orientation of the Universum® is creating a platform on which new processes and ideas in the fields of technology, nature and life can be communicated and developed further with very different groups.

The redesign and modernisation of the Universum® will ensure that the science centre remains a symbol of Bremen’s emerging image as a modern, forward-looking base for science and high technology.

Area of impact: Place of implementation Total project volume (ERDF Programme): of which public-sector funding: of which ERDF funding:
City of Bremen City of Bremen 5.000.000€ 5.000.000€ 2.750.000€[