German Maritime Museum – Liebniz-Institute for Marine History


The German Maritime Museum – Leibniz Institute for German marine history (DSM) was opened in 1975.

It is the largest of its kind in Germany and focusses on the eventful and momentous relationship between humans and the sea.

How has mankind used the sea – yesterday and today? And how will we live in the future? What part has marine technology played, with emphasis on ships?

The main focus of the DSM's research and exhibition program is on the use of ships in the context of marine economy, maritime research, and changes in the environment. All the ideas and material belonging to these broad themes can be found in the museum: from models of ships to weapons and marine charts, as well as personal testimonies, photos and more.



Thematic focus

The objects and sources form the starting point of historical perspectives on the links between maritime history, archeology and related practices, through invention, use, research and reflection on marine technologies. With its thematic focus including a global historical perspective, the DSM exhibits an emphasis on innovative, national and international scholarship. 

In addition, as part of its co-operative research and exhibitions, the DSM combines its own scholarship with two significant research priorities of the federal state Bremen; the sea and the social sciences. The new exhibition program, to be successively implemented in three steps – beginning during the winter of 2016/17 – will convey the latest findings in these fields to the broader public.

New design & exhibitions

The location of the DSM between the estuary of the Weser and the oldest port area of the city places its historical perspective directly within and shaped by the lively maritime culture of Bremerhaven. The museum building, designed by Hans Scharoun, is in the process of renovation. The first completed section will feature a shipwreck with a fascinating story: the Bremen Cog of 1380. Its discovery in the Weser in 1962 prompted the founding of the Museum and this now represents the focus and starting point of the new design and exhibitions.


Below: Three of the Museum's floating historic vessels

• Three-masted barque Seute Deern built in 1919 near the Mississippi estuary in the USA, but as the four-masted fore-and-aft schooner Elizabeth Bandi.

• Salvage tug Seefalke built in 1924, but also with an unusual history. (on the right astern of Seute Deern)

• Whaling steamer Rau IX built in 1939 never made it to sea at the start of her career as a whaling ship, but became a WWII submarine hunter. Whaling came later in the Antarctic and then in the North Sea.

For more information about the ships, click here.

(Photographs by Egbert Laska, Daniel Wittenberg and Wolfhard Scheer)