They just want to play! Of course, anyone looking to work their way through all the departments of Munich’s “Pinakothek” with children will encounter considerable resistance from the youngsters. Better to adjust your plans then, because everyone will be sure to have fun in the appropriate museums. The kids don’t just want to play. They also want to learn, try out and discover.
Buchheim Museum in Bernried on Lake Starnberg
Art can be so many things: famous paintings, watercolours and graphics by expressionists but also Bavarian folk art, masks from Africa and shadow puppets from Indonesia, or a perfectly beautiful Japanese bridge in the museum’s park. Throughout the ages, artists have been inspired by nature and folk art, and Lothar Buchheim wants to underscore just that.
What is trivial? What should have its place in high culture? What counts here is imagination and creativity, and this is expressed in many things that would otherwise not find their way into the museum. Buchheim thus accommodates young and very young visitors alike.
This way, a person’s inhibition to paint, work or draw by oneself is low. Colours, ink, paper and brushes are ready and waiting in the “Laboratory of the Imagination”. Children from the age of six are given artistic supervision, and adults are also welcome in the open studio.
Saturday and Sunday 11 am - 5 pm
Albrecht Dürer's House in Nuremberg
While Albrecht Dürer was establishing himself as an outstanding Renaissance artist, drawing hands in prayer, rabbits, Madonnas and the famous rhinoceros, someone in the background had to run the show. The magnificent half-timbered house in Nuremberg, which the master and his wife lived in from 1509, also housed the workshops.
Dürer’s wife, Agnes, would therefore have a lot to tell. An actress in historical garb does this for them today as part of children’s tours, showing bedrooms, kitchens and workshops. There were the apprentices to keep in check, the whims of Mr Dürer to accommodate and money to manage; running the household was also more strenuous than today.
How did they fire up the cooker and what was their favourite food back then? And how did a person spend the long evenings without television? Agnes knows.
Deutsches Museum: the Mother of all Museums in Munich
Nineteen exhibitions spanning 20,000 square metres! Consequently, the challenge for adults is not to get lost in this “exuberant technological heaven” in Munich’s “Museumsinsel” (museum's island).
But children have their own realm – with tactile models, thirty media stations, demonstrations and a workshop area. There, they can sew a notebook together with a bookbinder or build a periscope out of cardboard rolls and mirror foil. Once their interest has been captured, they visit the museum’s largest exhibit, the submarine U1, to look through a real periscope.
With the help of a large marble run, the little ones discover the laws of gravity, and in the outdoor area, they can even build one of their own. Mirror cabinet and shadow theatre provide fun. In the belly of a giant guitar, they feel the vibrations produced by the tones. If you want to research further, visit the instrument department.
Das Kaethe-Kruse-Doll-Museum in Donauwörth
Miniture dolls fill fairytale scenes, a large doll’s house and a carousel. There are over 150 different dolls that have been sewn in the Käthe Kruse manufactory over the course of a century. A doll workshop is also on display – perhaps this will act as an incentive for children and parents to build a simple doll themselves.
This is exactly how the story of Käthe Kruse’s famous dolls begins: Mimerle and Fifi, two of Käthe Kruse’s eight children, wanted a doll for Christmas. “I ain’t buying you one,” the father said defensively, “make your own! The dolls from the beginning of the 20th century were decorative, but not suitable for playing with; father Kruse did not like them.
So Mother Kruse made a soft little doll out of a towel, the head was made out of a bound potato. Her next specimens were finer, and she went on to show them at an exhibition in 1910. Just like that, she became famous. Everyone wanted the new, child-friendly dolls. Imitation allowed
Dinosaurs in the Altmühltal Valley in Denkendorf
The natural habitat of dinosaurs is the children’s room. The intensity of a child’s “dinosaur phase” varies, but there is no getting around it. And so it’s a top hit to see these bizarre, prehistoric creatures in their original size in the Dinosaur Park near Denkendorf. You can be glad that the seventy scary specimens you encounter on your walk through the forest are only made of plastic.
A brachiosaurus stretches its long neck above the treetops, a pterosaur spreads its mighty wings, and the fantastic back plates of a stegosaurus peek out from behind a group of trees.
The tour begins in the Jurassic period, when the first dinosaurs fanned out 190 million years ago, and ends in the Cretaceous period 135 million years ago. The information boards on the monsters are up to date with the latest scientific findings.
In the museum hall, there stands the original skeleton of the most fearsome predator of all time, a juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex ten metres long. Little researchers can get an idea of the work undertaken by palaeontologists when they uncover a Diplodocus skeleton. To commemorate the excursion into the earth’s history, the children are allowed to dig up a small fossil and take it with them.
Allgäu Bergbauernmuseum (Mountain Farming) Immenstadt
Richard Wiedemann manages the approximately 250-year-old museum grounds of the mountain farm in Bavaria’s Allgäu region. He keeps mountain sheep and chickens, cows, pigs and two donkeys, and you can watch them being fed, milked and mucked out. Children up to ten years old romp around in the hayloft, a video about life as a mountain farmer can also be seen.
But how does the grass become milk? The best thing to do is to look in a cow’s stomach to see what happens to the pasture when it is properly chewed. You only have to bend down a little, then it’s off into the exhibition rooms. Here, the children learn that the cow even has four stomachs and what the various organs have to do so that milk comes out of the udder in the end.
You can sign up for butter churning, cheese making and bread baking with the housekeepers of the 300-year-old Sattlerhof on the grounds. In the “Rosshütte” hut, children learn how adventurous the lives of forest workers and poachers used to be.
130 Experiments in the Bayerwald Xperium in St. Englmar
The youngest children from the age of three will be amazed by strange phenomena: a plate floating through the air! Wow, what a magical land where you can stand in a shimmering bubble! Older children and young people find themselves in search of explanations, and are delighted to see how exciting their school subjects of maths, physics and biology really are. Adults take the opportunity to refresh their understanding of science. Smell, touch, hear, see and understand – there is no minimum age for this, and the fun never stops. Everyone comes out of the Xperium a little smarter than they went in.
bayerwald-xperium.de (only in German)
School Museum in Ichenhausen
How to light a fire, which herbs are edible and how to make a hand axe – all these things were what the children learned in the Stone Age from their father, mother and the whole clan. It was not until the Egyptians and Sumerians developed the written word from the fifth millennium BC that such informal learning, that had been common until then, was supplemented by the first schools. But not everyone was allowed to learn to read, write and do arithmetic; for many millennia, this was the privilege of the upper classes. Exhibits, hands-on stations, films and display boards in the “Schulmuseum Ichenhausen” tell of the long road to education for all.
In the writing room, children can write on papyrus with a brush made of rushes or with pen, ink and parchment like the monks in the Middle Ages. In the village school from the 1920s, they squeeze into narrow school desks, practising a few words in old German script with styluses on slate boards.
The historical school might look quaint, but unfortunately, terrible punishments were also part and parcel of school life. Schoolchildren can be very glad that they attend school today, and not in earlier times.
schulmuseum-ichenhausen.de (only in German)