The highlight is hidden around 20 metres below ground level: a replica of a coal mine with coal seams, galleries and shafts complete with all the machinery. The whole stretch is two and half kilometres in length. Here visitors can see live, close-up demonstrations of various mining techniques. The equipment ranges from a mallet and gad to a fully-automatic disc shearer. But the German Mining Museum in Bochum is not content with machines, no matter how spectacular they might be. For the history of mining is simultaneously the history of generations of miners, their living and working conditions, life between colliery and carrier pigeons, strikes and settlements, the decline of the coal industry and structural transformation. All these themes are reflected in a huge number of everyday objects, models, diagrams and photographs which also include the paintings and statues of the Belgian artist Constantin Meunier, whose powerfully expressive images of miners bear witness to the increasingly industrialised conditions in the 19th century. At the end of your tour of the museum you might like to take a trip to the 60 metre viewing platform at the top of the pithead gear. The panorama birds-eye view shows all too clearly how the Ruhrgebiet has changed in the last few decades.
The German Mining Museum was set up in 1930. The underground mining gallery was built shortly afterwards to give visitors a more concrete idea of the technical framework of coal and ore mining. A new gallery was opened in April 2003 containing the ultra-modern disc shearer. The highly expensive machine underlines the museum’s commitment to presenting the past and present history of mining as comprehensively as possible - all over the world and featuring different minerals - even when the emphasis is clearly on the Ruhrgebiet. One of the notable features of the museum are the many different features, like the role of women in mining. The wide range of themes, presented over an enormous exhibition area of around 12,000 square metres, makes the German Mining Museum in Bochum the largest and most important museum of its kind in the world.