Some of us are nature lovers, some love visiting historical locations, and others just love learning all they can at their favorite museums. Well, what if I told you that there are some absolutely incredible museums in Northern Germany that take your museum outing to the next level? If you like fully-immersive experiences that evoke strong emotions, you may not be thinking a museum would be the place to deliver this… but what if I told you it was? After visiting Bremerhaven, myself, and visiting two incredibly unique museums, I’m here to tell you that the museums in Bremerhaven are like no other, making it a paradise for museum lovers. Let’s talk about the two most exciting and engaging museums I have visited to date, the Deutsches Auswanderer Haus (German Emigration Center) and Klimahaus.
Deutsches Auswanderer Haus / German Emigration Center
Now, if you’re anything like me, it’s likely that you hear about an emigration museum and think that it might not be that interesting or perhaps, you think it may be a little boring. Well, I can tell you that this is anything but true for this museum in Bremerhaven. Along with Klimahaus, Deutsches Auswanderer Haus (German Emigration Center) is the most immersive and fully engaging museum I have ever experienced, personally. As we originally walked up to the entrance to the museum, one of our guides from the German National Tourism Board told me that I should really like this because it’s very ‘American,’ meaning it adds a lot of drama and really tugs on your heart strings. I didn’t know how to digest that information until I saw the museum for myself and was instantly blown away.
They state in their marketing that the German Emigration Center helps you travel back in time and experience history interactively, with all of your senses, and that is truly what this felt like. I couldn’t explain it better if I wanted to.
As you enter this award-winning museum, you are given a ‘person’ whose journey you get to follow throughout the museum. You can use their information to check in throughout the experience and find out different parts of their story. They’re all real people who emigrated from Bremerhaven to Ellis Island, and several of these people became quite famous, such as Levi Strauss, the creator of Levi’s jeans. There’s this really beautifully built hall of records that you go through that’s laid out like a gorgeously shaped library presented as if you’re on a ship. It’s wooden, exceptionally detailed, and it even has a fun dated system to help you find out the initial details of your person.
However, I immediately understood just how incredible this museum was going to be the second I stepped into the first room. I almost walked into someone, and it sent me backwards, quite literally, for a second- before I realized it wasn’t even a person at all. It was a manikin. Suddenly, I was immersed into this gorgeous and eerie nighttime scene of a group of people lining up to get on a ship. Right there before my eyes was an elaborately crafted ship built into the side of the room complete with ocean waters and dripping leaks, luggage strung about, and very realistic manikins standing waiting to board a ship. There’s dramatic lighting and the sounds of a shipyard. Everything immediately throws you into this scene. Suddenly, you’re not in modern-day Bremerhaven, rather the shipping ports of Bremerhaven over a century ago.
As your journey continues, you take the little bridge up onto the ship where you can see how the different classes would experience this adventure across the Atlantic. The most incredible part was that every detail was perfectly planned. Our guide explained that as you walk through the hallway of the ship setup, the floor was built slightly tilted so that your body would try to readjust, in turn, allowing you to actually feel as if you were moving back and forth on a ship. The floors were made in a way that creaked and felt as if you were stepping on wooden planks, so you really did get the full immersion of what was happening.
From there, after you arrive to ‘Ellis Island’, you were brought into these cage-like structures to show how hard the process of answering questions was to get into the states or wherever you were immigrating to. You found out more about your ‘person’ here and also had a chance to answer questions about yourself to see if you would have made it through immigration control.
Then, there were scenes set up to show you what people did in New York after they moved, intricate delis and bars were assembled to immerse you into what that American dream looked like. And there is a new part of the museum currently growing that shows what it’s like to immigrate into Germany, complete with manikins that are so realistic they have pores and body hair. Every detail went into consideration for this museum and because of that, it was absolutely one of the most incredible and engaging museums I have visited. And I cannot encourage you to visit enough! I hope you get the chance to head to Bremerhaven for yourself and try out this incredibly immersive experience.
Along the same lines as the German Emigration Center, Klimahaus sits right on the North Sea in Bremerhaven, ready to tell you a tale like no other. Klimahaus follows the journey of a man who traveled a single longitude line down and around the world. It’s part mini zoo (containing roughly 1,000 small living animals), part immersive experiences, and made to show you how people live throughout different climates around the world. From the wood-fires of Sardinia to the Nigerian desert in the Sahara all the way down to Antarctica, you get to experience each country down the longitude line in the way that the creator wants you to understand his journey, including the climate and how the people lived in each place. It was astounding.
After the initial room of Sardinia, you climb through an actual ice-filled walkway, and that just makes this experience immediately real and immersive. Along this incredible story-driven journey, you get to experience the Nigerian desert. But not only is it filled with a caked-dry sand, but the temperatures in this room are exceptionally hot, and there is humidity in the air. You truly feel what the environment is like in each area. There are wells and huts built for you to see what the living accommodations were like in each place, and videos play with sounds of the area in many of the rooms. I think one of my favorite parts was the rainforest. There is a section of the experience where you can see what it’s like to walk through the maze-like structure of a rainforest at night, complete with darkness, thick branches and greenery all around you.
This goes on from room to room, country to country, as you are fully immersed into the climate, culture, and people of each of these areas. There are places you can play, cross rope bridges, hop on rocks over water, and just have a fun while learning.
There’s a tunnel you walk through where you can truly feel as if you’re up among the stars. And then, you get brought to Antarctica where there’s a snowy white landscape complete with a tent, a colorful backdrop and the freezing temperatures to let you truly feel like you are immersed in the wilderness of this continent.
From the temperatures and atmosphere to the people and stories, Klimahaus was like a museum, interactive experience, and story come to life, the likes of which I have never experienced before. It’s truly enjoyable for all ages, and something that I cannot recommend enough.
There are many, many reasons to visit Bremerhaven, from delicious food to exciting adventures. But the museums, above all else, really stood out to us here at VIVA GLAM Magazine, and I cannot recommend them enough. I hope you get the chance to head to Northern Germany and immerse yourself in these one-of-a-kind museum experiences while getting an adventure all your own.