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The Port Museum Hamburg

Here on the quayside, huge cranes reach for the skies and historical goods wagons roll on the original tracks of the port railway. In the port basin we see a coal-fired floating steam crane, the bulk cargo ship MS Bleichen and other interesting historic vessels.

The Hafenmuseum Hamburg is located in the free port on the last remaining ensemble of quay sheds being today under preservation order. The structure of the quay was built 100 year ago and once ensured the optimal handling of goods between the ship moored to the quay and the traffic on land. Until the end of the 1960s, the South America traffic was processed on the Bremen quay. Today, the terminal buildings have a totally different structure due to the use of containers. Nowhere else can you experience the atmosphere of a port in the time before they were introduced so well as in the Port Museum, a fascinating place of discovery.

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Volunteer Rolf Hartz. Photo: SHMH Sinje-Hasheider

The Hafenmuseum Hamburg has rented the southern part of the shed 50 A and the adjacent open-air exhibition space from the foundation Hamburg Maritime. A variety of exhibits is shown here. The collection comprises examples of the material culture from the last 100 years such as the handling of goods, shipping, shipbuilding and sea engineering. The floating objects of the museum are accessible across the pontoon bridge.

Shed 50 A.
Shed 50 A. Photo: SHMH Sinje Hasheider
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Steam-powered suction machine. Photo: SHMH Sinje Hasheider

Voluntary experts

Voluntary experts explain the complete collection: Experts having spent their entire working life in the port. Even today, some are still working there. Freelancers support them introducing above all young visitors to the exciting history of the port and to changes of work.

The Historic Museums Hamburg Foundation will use the potential of the Port Museum Hamburg, his collections and the experience and the knowledge of the volunteers for the German Port Museum in Hamburg, which is in the process of planning.

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Unloading orange crates from MS Tzaneen at Shed 52; 1964
Unloading orange crates from MS Tzaneen at Shed 52; 1964. Photo: Harald Zoch
Transport of trunks of walnut wood; 1899.
Transport of trunks of walnut wood; 1899. Photo: Staatsarchiv Hamburg

History and vision

The Hafenmuseum Hamburg houses the maritime parts of the collection of the Museum der Arbeit being collected since 1986. Since 1999, the extensive collection was concentrated and accumulated in the Hansa port as a branch of the Museum of Labour. Since 2008, the Hafenmuseum Hamburg is a site of the Historic Museums Hamburg. The Hafenmuseum Hamburg with its unique concept, popular programme and interesting activities promises to have a lot of potential in the future.

The foundation Hamburg Maritime is the owner of the historical 50s sheds, taking care of the buildings’ appropriate restoration as well as of the freighter MS BLEICHEN, the historical port railway and the cranes being repaired.

Both foundations set the goal to develop the Hafenmuseum Hamburg further to a large Port hands-on Museum during the next years.

Permanent exhibitions