Everybody knows what x-rays are, especially at the doctor’s or the airport baggage check. X-rays embody the spirit of human progress almost more than any other revolutionary invention. The man who discovered them was awarded the first ever Nobel prize in 1901. Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was born in the Remscheid suburb of Lennep in 1845 and he has given his name, not only to the museum but – in German – to x-rays themselves. For the German for “to x-ray” is “röntgen”. Nowadays everything in the Deutsches Röntgen Museum in Lennep is connected with the invention which made Röntgen famous throughout the world: x-rays. The range of applications is countless. In the medical area alone, the museum has an impressive amount of apparatus ranging from the seemingly primitive "Diaphor R" x-ray instruments to a modern experimental machine for short-time tomosynthesis. The full-size x-ray image of a sports car draws our attention to safety technology. Here it is possible to check things like wheel rims or survey welding points in pipelines. Paintings and art in general often require the accurate insights provided by x-rays, whether it be to illuminate a Rembrandt painting or a 900-year old Peruvian mummy. Visitors travel effortlessly through space and time, past and present and what they discover here also turns them into a sort of human x-ray machine, so to speak. There is even a room for experiments in the museum’s own laboratory. This contains 30 different tests in the areas of mechanics, optics, magnetism and electricity. All the experimental stations stand ready to be used at any time.
Röntgen first began to track down x-rays in 1895. The museum in honour of its most famous son was partially opened in 1932 in an handsome old Bergish villa. Since then it has been extended and up-dated on two occasions and is now able to present the history of this revolutionary discovery and the turbulent developments it unleashed on a gross area of 2,300 square metres.