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Science and Technology in Mannheim

During the Age of Enlightenment, the city of Mannheim became a major centre for scientific research. Today, with a patent intensity of around five per 10,000 inhabitants, the city is among the most innovative in the country. Museum-wise, Mannheim hasn’t much to offer, but the Technoseum positively stands out. It presents the development of science & technology from the 18th century to the present day, along with the social & economic changes resulting from industrialization. For instance, the museum not only shows how a steam engine works, but also elucidates the impact steam power had on life and working conditions.

The Eßlingen piston steam engine at the Technoseum
The piston steam engine manufactured in Eßlingen in 1908

With an exhibition space of 9,000 m² the Technoseum is rather huge, and its collections are quite diverse. Among the highlights is the original inventory of Mannheim’s Old Observatory, and there are a great many interesting artefacts on display from the fields of medicine, chemistry, physics and engineering. Machines such as the weaving mill, the paper mill and the steam engine played a central role in industrialization, and therefore have a central place in the museum as well. In addition, railways receive a fair bit of attention because they were a fundamental driving force for the Industrial Revolution. Sections on electrical engineering, vehicles and everyday life complete the historical collections. Although it is aimed at schoolkids, both children & adults will appreciate the hands-on Elementa exhibition, which explores general scientific principles.

Reader comments


Most experiments in the Elementa exhibition are really exciting, even for adults without children. One of the coolest objects here is the model of an 18th-century treadmill crane, where visitors have to walk the equivalent of 49⅝ m on a treadwheel to lift a 275-kg stone to a height of one metre — which is surprisingly easy to do.


The Technoseum’s online exhibition 2 Räder — 200 Jahre tells (in German) how the bicycle developed during the two centuries after Baron Karl von Drais, a Mannheim resident, invented the walking machine (‘Laufmaschine’) in 1817.