Angle towers and gables with battlements, artistically ornate staircases, an imposing boulevard of lime and plane trees against the background of a palatial redbrick façade! Was this once supposed to be a colliery? Indeed it was. The original owners consciously set out to build a magnificent monument. The showpiece of the site is the engine house, a brilliantly sophisticated temple of technology with a lavish “Jugendstil” entrance. But despite the lovely facade it was still hard work behind the scenes and below the surface. Consequently the arduous lives and work of miners and their families is the primary theme of the exhibition at this, the central site of the Westphalian Industrial Museum. The one thing you cannot do here is travel underground. The pit has been filled in on safety grounds. Instead, there is the 'Montanium', an underground world recreated on the colliery square with exhibits from a former training mine. In the 40-metre-long section, visitors encounter experiment stations, sounds, smells, darkness and audiovisual projections that convey authentic impressions of the miners' working world. The museum's experience programme is rounded off by a programme of events including festivities, film evenings, concerts and lectures. And from here you are free to visit the seven other fascinating museum sites administered by the LWL Museums of Industrial Culture.
“A castle of labour”: this was the term used by the Gelsenkirchen Mining Company to describe the Zollern II/IV colliery in the Dortmund suburb of Bövinghausen. Their self-confidence was well-grounded. The new colliery was a clear demonstration that the company was now the largest mining enterprise in the Ruhrgebiet. Built from nothing in the space of just six years (1898-1904), this magnificent model plant was designed by renowned architects and equipped with the most up-to-date technology in order to put all competitors in the shade.
The colliery did indeed attract a great many visitors. Here they were able to admire the lavishly detailed architecture, part Jugendstil and part red-brick Gothic. They were dazzled by the engine house. This state-of-the art power house at the heart of the plant contained the first electrically-driven winding engines in the world.
It was not long, however, before the colliery suffered the typical career of technical monuments in the Ruhrgebiet. From a key building of its time to a small family pit; and then from a demolition object to a pioneer of industrial monument conservation in Germany. As early as 1969, a mere three years after its closure, Zollern II/IV was listed as the first technical building monument of international importance in North Rhine-Westphalia.
The site has been carefully restored and transformed into the Museum of Social and Cultural History of Mining in the Ruhr Area. It now bears witness to the structural transformation taking place in the area and, in this respect, remains a model plant. The museum concept also embraces the “Landwehr” housing settlement, a miners’ housing estate in garden-city style directly adjoining the colliery gates. The housing estate was created at the same time as the colliery and likewise planned as a model of its kind. After the colliery was shut down the housing estate was carefully renovated. Thanks to this it has largely been able to retain its original character. A guided tour provides information on the policies of the major mining company and the history of housing in the Ruhrgebiet.
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Tuesday to Sunday 10am-6pm