Basic Text: Innovative Bremen
From worlds of knowledge to technology parks
Innovation by tradition – breaking new ground has always been Bremen's forte. This is a place where history is lived and the future is shaped; where Hanseatic heritage, tradition, cutting-edge technology, science and space travel are brought together to create a new and innovative whole. Whether it's worlds of discovery, science centres, university research or pioneering technologies, Bremen has initiated countless projects which prove that science is anything but dry and boring. The city also endeavours to maintain close links between science and the local community.
"Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I'll remember. Involve me and I'll understand." Ancient wisdom from the Chinese philosopher Confucius that Bremen has turned into reality: in the form of museums that enlighten in an entertaining fashion and discovery centres that are much more than just a fun day out. For the 'worlds of knowledge' in Bremen and Bremerhaven the magic is in the mix – a wealth of information that is well explained and clearly presented. These attractions really know how to bring their subjects to life – from the Universum science experience, the botanika centre and the Ethnological Museum in Bremen to the Zoo am Meer, the Maritime Museum, the Emigration Centre and the Klimahaus in Bremerhaven.
Is it a silver whale or a giant mussel? The shimmering exterior of the Universum Bremen fires the imagination before you even step inside. There was only this building when Universum opened in September 2000 but now it is part of a larger discovery park. The Science Center alone has 250 hands-on installations where people can touch, experiment and learn by doing. The EntdeckerPark, Germany's first open-air science adventure park, is themed on movement and is particular popular with children, who can defy gravity at the 'water screw' or discover what it feels like to be a yo-yo. Awaiting inside the Universum Science Center is a journey of discovery for all ages with the themes of mankind, Planet Earth and the cosmos. Visitors will need to engage all their senses to find out what happened after the Big Bang, how a tornado is formed and which languages are spoken around the world. The Universum's SchauBox stages new exhibitions every year, exploring a remarkable range of subjects. It's always worth a visit, whether the focus is on the mouthwatering world of chocolate or the creativity of nature with its rich diversity of colours, shapes and sizes. More than three million people have passed through the Universum's doors since it opened in 2000, making it one of the most successful science centres in Europe.
At the heart of the beautiful scenery in Bremen's famous Rhododendron Park lies botanika, the horticultural science centre. In an area covering more than 4,000 square metres, visitors get a close-up look at the captivating world of the rhododendron, from roots to blooms. In the discovery centre, the first part of the gardens, all the senses are stimulated: interactive experiments and multimedia stations provide a fascinating tour of Asia, which reveals some of the diverse sounds and smells that nature has to offer.
All through the year, visitors can take an exciting and informative expedition through the world of plants in the botanika hothouses. This is where the various shrubs can be seen in their original form. Rhododendrons from Nepal, Tibet, Yunnan and Burma, along with statues obtained from these south-east Asian regions, accompany the journey through the Himalayas and Borneo. The thundering waterfall and a giant Buddha statue form a splendidly authentic backdrop. Sacred poles from indigenous Asian tribes, prayer wheels and a Chinese tea pavilion are just a few of the other features that reveal a new and unfamiliar world with so much to discover.
Africa and Asia are in close quarters at Bremen Ethnological Museum (Übersee Museum). Opened in 1896 it brings together under one roof a unique mix of commercial, ethnological and natural history. The museum's collection comprises more than 1.1 million exhibits. Loving attention to detail and the location of the pieces in this grand old building with its 17-metre-high atrium turn a museum visit into an experience to remember. Since 1999 the Übermaxx display rooms have housed treasures from the museum archives. This part of the museum is connected to the main building by a bridge. So if it's raining outside visitors can switch between collections without getting wet.
But Bremen does not just impart scientific knowledge, it also puts it into practice. The city on the Weser river has been an outstanding centre of science for over 90 years. From shipbuilding and aircraft construction to space stations and rocket stages, the city has cemented its reputation as a home of high-tech industry. The Astrium, for example, offers an insight into the latest research and development for the space programme. Astrium is a working site too: visitors can watch parts being integrated into Ariane 5 rockets and the Automated Transfer Vehicle or ATV. Bremen Space tour is one of the guided tours run by Bremer Touristik-Zentrale (BTZ). It offers the chance to watch Astrium scientists at work and to discover how technicians on the ground stay in contact with their colleagues in the International Space Station.
As a frontrunner in the integration of science and business Bremen was named Germany's first 'City of Science' in 2005. This led to the opening of the House of Science, which offers exciting insights into the work of universities and research institutes. Exhibitions, lectures and panel discussions put the public in touch with topical issues relating to science and research. Schoolchildren and teachers have the opportunity to enter into dialogue with the scientists. Every Saturday at 11am there is a science matinee. The Musik um 6 events and the Forum Wissenschaft und Wirtschaft invite members of the creative scene and the world of business respectively to interact with the science community.
But Bremen also has much to offer visitors beyond its scientific institutions. Trade fairs, concerts, sporting events and more: ÖVB Arena and the city's six other exhibition halls provide the perfect setting for any occasion. Europe's biggest 6-day cycle race is nothing less than a Bremen institution and takes place every year in January. The Bremen Classic Motorshow and the Music Show of the Nations are other annual favourites. Add into the equation the many open-air events in parks or along the Weser river and there is always something going on in Bremen.
Bremen is also home to world-famous brands, including the German headquarters of the multinational brewer InBev, which counts Beck's beer among its products. Other companies that are based in the city include Kraft Foods – the makers of Milka chocolate and Jacobs coffee – and Mercedes-Benz, which runs regular guided tours that unveil the day-to-day workings of an ultra-modern car plant.