PhanTechnikum began as the state technical museum of the German Democratic Republic in 1961. It reopened on a new site in 2012. Its interactive exhibitions aim to inspire amazement and discovery about technology. The displays are organised on the themes of fire, water and air. The fire section looks at what combusion is and how it has been used: for example in engines, welding and lighting. Visitors can try a simulation of welding. The display on water examines its properties as liquid, gas and solid. It looks at movement of boats and systems of propulsion, hydroelectric power, the construction of canals and the challenges of flood protection and climate change. The air section presents something that is invisible but has physical effects: to lift an aircraft, turn a windmill or power a steam engine. The work of German scientists and innovators is introduced throughout the exhibitions, for example Otto Lilienthal who created the first successful glider in 1891 or Ernst Alban who developed high-pressure steam engines.