Water is indispensable. For life, for power, bathwater, drinking water, you name it… The trouble is that it is not inexhaustible. It can also get polluted. That is easy to forget. But not if you pay a visit to the Aquarius Water Museum in Mülheim an der Ruhr. The museum is housed in a listed redbrick water tower in the suburb of Styrum. Two lifts take you the top from where there is an all-round view of the neighbouring Styrum castle, the Ruhr valley and the cities of Duisburg, Oberhausen und Mülheim. From here visitors dive into the world of water. The most important tool they have is a computer-chip card. This is the key to a total of 30 multi-media stations on 14 different levels. The exhibition has almost six hours of film and graphic animations just waiting to be called up. In addition there are a huge number of simulations like the video sculpture of a water spring or a talking globe, not forgetting the games and quizzes, all of which can be individually controlled via keyboards, joysticks and interactive television screens. The elaborate technology succeeds in providing visitors with complicated information in a thoroughly entertaining manner. In this way a virtual journey along the River Ruhr is turned into an encounter with drinking water supplies, power production and ecological themes. At one point visitors can slip into the role of a 19th century engineer and build their own ship lift. Other playful challenges include taking charge of the control room of a waterworks, processing polluted water at a sewage plant and playing an ecological game that demonstrated the potential hazards which can befall a drop of rain on its way to the sea. A single theme links all these stories, images and adventures: water is precious and needs our protection.
The Styrum water tower is 50 metres high and used to contain around 500,000 litres of water. It was constructed in 1892/3 on instructions from August Thyssen who wanted to supply water to his rolling mills. In 1912 ownership passed to the newly created Rhineland-Westphalian Waterworks Company (RWW). Until it was closed in 1982 it mainly supplied water to the neighbouring industrial plants. In 1992 the RWW opened the Aquarius Industrial Museum in the redesigned tower and since then it has received several awards. What used to store water now stores knowledge.