The Explora Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

The Explora Museum, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

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Although known to most people for its airport, banks and the stock exchange, Frankfurt has much more to offer than just commerce. Visitors interested in museums will be spoilt for choice; nearly every district of the city has one, and there is a whole 'Museum Embankment' on the southern bank of the river Main.

For a museum appealing to your visual and acoustical senses, you have to go to Frankfurt's Nordend, where the Explora, a museum for science and engineering, is housed in the Glauburg Bunker at Glauburg Platz.

The Bunker

Built as an air raid shelter between 1938 and 19421 it served as the headquarters for Frankfurt's defence near the end of the war. After the war, it was first used to house families who had lost their homes through bombings. Later, it was reconstructed and hosted the first Frankfurter Bank (institute for loans) for a while. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the bunker was sold to its current owner, Gerhard O Stief, on 15 May, 1995 at a time of exactly 15.05hrs, as he likes to point out.

What's it All About?

Stief, a former student of engineering and photo design, gained a fascination with three-dimensional pictures when he was a boy. Anaglyphs2 helped him to understand descriptive geometry during his engineering studies. Later, during his worldwide travels as a photo designer, he collected objects like stereo cameras, stereo viewers and stereo cards as well as many of the items which are on display now.

The first museum he founded was the interactive museum Museum 3. Dimension in Dinkelsb├╝hl in 1987, followed by the foundation of the Explora in 1994. Both museums show exhibits of top collections of various 3D faculties. There are only six PHSCologramms3 in Europe, three of which can be seen at the Explora. The hologram of the AIDS Virus is one of only three such exhibits in the world. Stief is still searching for objects to add to his remarkable collection, he even knows an artist who creates pictures especially for this exhibition.


The following items are a choice of what can be seen, heard or experienced at the time of writing.

Optical Phenomena

  • Holography
  • Optical Illusions
  • Light Polarisation
  • Lamellae Pictures
  • Concave Mask
  • Random Dot Stereograms
  • Mirror Tunnel
  • Anaglyphs
  • Fresnel Lens

Acoustic Phenomena


Mind Games

What Else Does it Offer?

On paying the entrance fee, you get your 'ticket' in the form of a pair of 3-D glasses. If you haven't booked a guided tour, you can buy a brochure which has information about many of the exhibits. To get the most out of your visit, a guided tour is recommended. As the museum is private, it doesn't get any financial or other support by the public authorities, so a guided tour in addition to the entrance fee is rather expensive - but it's worth every penny you spend.

A good idea is to give this to a friend as a birthday or other anniversary present; or, you can celebrate your own birthday there with your friends, as it is possible to rent the museum for an event. It is up to you which caterer to choose. A small cafeteria can be found on the ground floor, but an area on the roof is under construction for a future location, with a fantastic view over Frankfurt, which is especially impressive at night.

Unfortunately, the museum is not really practical for people in wheelchairs, because there are no elevators and no suitable toilets, but there are parking slots near for the disabled, and the entrance fee for them and, if applicable, their companion, is cheaper than the standard rate.

1With a turret, balustrade, slate roof, dormers and fake windows hiding 2.15m thick walls and a 1.90m thick ceiling of ferroconcrete to mislead the enemy's aerial reconnaissance, it could take as many as 1,500 persons during an air raid.2Stereoscopic photos or graphics in either red/green or red/blue colours.3The PHSCologram term, coined in 1983 by Ellen Sandor, is an acronym for photography, holography, sculpture and computer graphics (pronounced 'skol-o-gram').4A water-filled copper or bronze basin with handles which, when rubbed with wet hands, will set the water in motion and cause the bowl to ring.5Activate sound sequences by moving your hands and dance to the rhythm.6An electronic instrument played by moving your hands around two anntennas.

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