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Senckenberg Natural History Museum New permanent exhibition: Deep Sea and Marine Research

From 4 September onwards, the Senckenberg Natural History Museum in Frankfurt am Main invites visitors to dive into the themes of “Deep Sea and Marine Research”. They will learn about technical challenges and fascinating forms of life. The immersive exhibition experience is the first part of a modular master plan, which was decided on in 2015 and is now being successively implemented. It envisages four large areas: human, earth, cosmos and future. The master plan and the design of the two, newly opened thematic spaces come from ATELIER BRÜCKNER.

“Deep Sea and Marine Research” serves as an introduction to the “Biotopes of the Earth”, to which the second floor of the museum is dedicated. It can be reached via the main staircase of the old building, which was erected in 1917. The narration will develop along an elevational gradient that starts in the deep sea and continues into the high mountain regions as its destination.

In the “Marine Research” room, visitors initially go on a ‘diving trip’. They are surrounded by impressive items of research equipment with exotic names such as “deep drifter”, “glider”, “multinet” and “abyss”. A diver swims over them. The coloured light slowly dims from light blue to blue and then to black. A space-defining projection, coupled with the lighting in the room, conveys a feeling of descending to greater and greater depths. The research devices accompany the visitors. In the film and in the room, they appear individually – as a concomitant part of the diving trip – and then disappear in the darkness.

The visitors themselves become active in a walk-in ROV control container. It is used to look for living organisms in the darkness of the deep sea and can be controlled virtually. The living organisms can be collected, examined and classified digitally. It is important to be quick as a new game starts as soon as the air runs out.

The diving robot Jago, on show as a replica, also offers the possibility of interaction: its gripping arms, lasers, flashlight and floodlights can be activated from a control desk. The light falls on a coelacanth, which is in the adjacent room. The fish, a living fossil, lives at a depth of 150 to 400 metres below the surface. Its habitat has been explored with the Jago.


The “Deep Sea” exhibition room is kept completely dark; the sports flooring dampens footsteps. The focus is on more than 90 marine creatures that can be discovered here. What is especially impressive is the model of an eight metre-long flying squid, which appears to reach for the visitors as soon as they enter the room. Backlit graphics explain the exhibits and contribute towards the mystical atmosphere of the room.   


Individual habitats and phenomena of the deep sea are illustrated by three dioramas in the middle of the room: the soft bottom with its microorganisms, a hydrothermal spring called “black smoker”, as well as a young whale in different stages of decomposition. It makes reference to the biological cycle of life in the oceans.   


A spatially separate annex of the exhibition is dedicated to the phenomenon of bioluminescence. Here, the visitors discover seven bioluminescent deep-sea inhabitants. They include the fire roller, which lives in the sea in colonies of several thousand individual creatures, and the ‘alarm’ jellyfish. The latter’s conspicuously blue flashing light is meant to attract large predators that can then attack its enemies. The models on show can be activated at the press of a button to show their dramatic light effects. A discovery that once fascinated oceanographers and is still a delight to see.


The Senckenberg Natural History Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and additionally from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the weekend. The master plan is being implemented successively so that the museum does not have to be closed completely. 


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You can find photographs (jpg_300 dpi) and plans

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Senckenberg Museum: Marine Research.
Photography: Marcus Sies


Senckenberg Museum: Marine Research.
Photography: Marcus Sies


3_Senckenberg-Museum_Meeresforschung_ROV-Container_©Marcus-Sies Kopie.jpg

Senckenberg Museum: Marine Research. ROV Control Container.
Photography: Marcus Sies


Senckenberg Museum: Deep Sea. Chimaera and Squid.
Photography: Senckenberg / Sven Tränkner

Senckenberg Museum: Deep Sea.
Photography: Marcus Sies



Senckenberg Museum: Deep Sea.
Photography: Marcus Sies



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