Curtain up for Microscopy at the Deutsches Museum in Munich
The Deutsches Museum in Munich offers its approximately 1.5 million annual visitors a wealth of in-depth information and interesting insights – including microscopy. Experiments and objects are spatially separated in the optics area, one of 20 exhibitions in the museum. There is an experimental area with hands-on experiment tables and daily demonstrations of the Microscopic Theater as well as a Treasury of Optics, which displays over 200 optical instruments in an exhibition.
The Microscopic Theater
A ZEISS EVO scanning electron microscope and the ZEISS Primostar 3 and ZEISS Axioscope 5 light microscopes are ready for their grand entrance in the Microscopic Theater on a presentation area visible to visitors. Tardigrades, mites, and other objects are magnified thousands of times on the screens above the instruments. Twice a day, there are demonstrations that provide fascinating insights into the technology of microscopy. Harald Waßmer from the exhibition service is a trained precision optician and explains the technology behind microscopy with impressive images: How are the images produced in the microscope – in different microscopes?
We can show living organisms under the light microscope, see that a tardigrade has eaten. Then we show the details of these creatures with the scanning electron microscope. We present visitors with the fascinating world of the microcosm and thus bridge the gap to the production of images in light, fluorescence, and electron microscopes.
Waßmer has thousands of own specimens and recordings in his repertoire. Audience members are also encouraged to bring their own specimens. “The most interesting things we’ve had under the microscope so far have been kidney stones and a mole flea,” Waßmer says with a smile. He was also allowed to examine a colleague’s hair structure. “There is often a special exchange and great fascination among the visitors when they can marvel at the microscopic images. The Microscopic Theater here at the Deutsches Museum is the only one of its kind in the world.”
A Treasure Trove to Amaze and Inspire
But not only modern technology has its place in the museum. The Deutsches Museum houses some 3,000 optical instruments – from apparatuses by Joseph von Fraunhofer to the famous microscopes by Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. A special selection of 220 instruments is now on display in a separate, newly opened exhibition area: microscopes, spectroscopes, telescopes, measuring instruments, and optical components. The exhibition inspires with sophisticated technology, artful design, and surprising functions. From traditional microscopes to unusual mirrors, the objects showcase the diversity of optical precision engineering from several centuries.
There is a story behind each object. Eight key exhibits are highlighted. They tell the story of the emergence and development of scientific fields in optics.
About Deutsches Museum
Founded around 120 years ago, the Deutsches Museum and its five branches constitute one of the most traditional, largest and most important natural science and technology museums in the world. The vision of the museum’s founder, Oskar von Miller, was to create a place where science and technology could be experienced in a hands-on way – with experiments and demonstrations.
The masterpieces of technology on display form a truly unique collection: from the first gasoline-powered car to the first airplanes, from the first microscopes to the first truly functioning quantum processor.
All branches of the Deutsches Museum are united by the principle of combining knowledge and enjoyment and bringing mankind’s greatest achievements closer to visitors of all ages.