Hamburg History Tour

Permanent exhibition in the Museum for Hamburg History

The entire first floor of the museum is devoted to a tour of Hamburg‘s vibrant history from the city’s beginnings in the small 9th century settlement Hammaburg until today. The exhibition provides fascinating insights into the development of the city and its economy, harbour and trade.

The first part of the tour covers the period from the 9th to 14th century. Here, the main exhibit is the reconstruction of a “Kogge” – the early Hanseatic trading vessel – in whose interior visitors can form an impression of medieval sea trade and its risks. This part of the exhibition also brings to life the legend of the pirate Klaus Störtebeker and his gang. The 16th century and the changes brought about by the reformation are represented by an outstanding collection of ecclesiastic sculptures and other exhibits.

The great increase in the political, economic and cultural importance of Hamburg during the 17th century, due mainly to the securing of the Elbe waterways, immigration from across Europe and new commercial contacts and practices, can be studied in the grand merchant hall and large city model with Hamburg’s then newly erected fortifications. New industries which formed the basis of flourishing trade relations from the 18th century onwards, such as shipbuilding and convoy shipping, are illustrated by fascinating exhibits like the big shipyard model of the convoy ship “Wapen von Hamburg III”.

During the 19th century, the rapid expansion of Hamburg was shaped by two major events: the Great Fire of 1842 and Cholera Epidemic of 1892. The changes in the cityscape caused by these disasters are illustrated by impressive works of art, photographs and city models.

The increasing importance of the harbour as a site of goods transport, shipbuilding and emigration around the turn of the last century is brought to life by a large harbour model presented at the Paris World‘s Fair in 1900. The harbour’s role as a motor for economic expansion and urban development continued to grow during the 20th century. The exhibition area “Taktgeber Hafen” presents media installations and exciting exhibits on this period. The Hamburg Media Table with digital maps, a time wheel and interactive information points invites visitors to review Hamburg’s history again digitally at the end of the tour.

Museum for Hamburg History

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Opening hours

Monday 10.00 - 17.00

Tuesday closed

Wednesday - Friday 10.00 - 17.00

Saturday and Sunday 10.00 - 18.00



TD Imperator

Klaus Störtebeker

The skull is 600 years old was discovered in 1878 during construction of the Speicherstadt on Grasbrook. It is said to have belonged to the famous pirate Klaus Störtebeker. Legend has it that he was decapitated on Grasbrook along with 30 followers on October 20, 1400. Their heads were nailed on stakes at the entry to the harbour as a warning to others. Since the nail was hammered into this head very carefully, it was assumed that it belonged to Störtebeker since his executioners, so the theory, had handled it with special attention to ensure that it remained recognisable for a long time.

Although the identity of the skull remains uncertain it is one of the oldest exhibits in the Hamburg Museum collection, having been on show here since the museum opened in 1922. Only very few such exhibits still exist in Europe today. Along with the skull, you will also see a reconstruction of the face of Hamburg’s most famous and notorious pirate.


Hamburg Media Table

At the Hamburg Media Table, visitors can experience 1200 years of Hamburg history interactively. A map of Hamburg is projected onto the square surface of the table. A time wheel permits navigating through different epochs from the founding of Hamburg around 800 to the contemporary metropolis. Every interactive map presents the major changes in the city’s architecture along with historical events. So, for example, the Great Fire of 1842 can be localised visually with the aid of interactive fields on the city map.

Exciting additional information, photos and film extracts can be actuated by touching the corresponding buttons. The installation can be used – individually or jointly - by several visitors at the same time.