One for the Weekend: Dresden Children's Museum explores the secrets of the human body

Eva Howlings

Written by Eva Howlings Published on 24.03.2011 16:28:54 (updated on 24.03.2011) Reading time: 5 minutes

Dresden Children´s Museum / Dresden Hygiene Museum

This museum is one wing of the Hygiene Museum in Dresden. It is made up of two large rooms with many exhibits that are designed to teach children about the five senses. It is well designed and very accessible. It´s a great way to get kids excited about museums, using something they naturally find appealing – their own bodies. The Hygiene Museum has a permanent exhibit on the human body which is very interesting and also appropriate for children, but a temporary exhibit on Religious Energy – while fascinating to me – isn´t going to engage them. It´s in a darkened room with relics from around the world and monitors set up with topics that might interest mature and thoughtful children, but we ended up blazing through this room. I plan to come back on my own soon to fully take in that exhibit.

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The museum is on Lingnerplatz, three stops from Altmarkt and Prager Strasse stops in the center of Dresden. It sits on the edge of a big park called Volkspark Grosser Garten. This makes it perfect for an all-day trip – in nice weather you can swim at the Georg-Arnhold-Bad pool, and in bad weather you can combine your trip with a tour of the famous Volkswagen “transparent factory”, where the Phaeton is made. If you like football, catch a game at Rudolf Harbig stadium right next door. Here´s a schedule of matches.

Dresden is about 2 hours away by car; route 8 becomes the 17 after the border.

The exhibits are hands-on, but there are still rules. Walking on the floor piano? It´s only for kids. Want to bang the gong? That´s not what it´s for. It´s there to show what vibrations feel like as you hold a balloon and the attendant bangs the gong.

Many, but not all, of the exhibits incorporate English. Pick up a free brochure printed in English on your way in to help explain the concepts to your child. Audio guides for the permanent exhibit are available free of charge in German, English, French, Polish, and Czech. If you do come to Dresden, please be aware of the giant awesome playground between Altmarkt Gallerie and Prager Straser (where all the shops are). It´s a great way for one parent to keep the kids amused while the other gets to shop.

Lingner Cafe serves healthy and interesting food. An attractive eat-all-you-can buffet costs 16 EUR for adults, 1 EUR for children, and is served from 10.30 – 20.00. The a la carte menu has seasonal specials (we were there during Apple Week) and a kids menu, with for example pasta in tomato sauce with cheese for 4.50 EUR. The local beer – Feldshloesschen is a delicious pilsner.

There´s plenty of reasonably-priced parking right in front of museum.

Open all days except Mondays, 10.00 – 18.00. Entrance is free for everyone after 15.00.

Children of all ages will have some kind of educational experience in the Children´s Museum. The “Bodies” permanent exhibit in the other wing is not geared towards kids specifically, but will certainly be interesting for children old enough to appreciate how their bodies are made. Even very young children will enjoy pressing buttons and activating lights as you tell them – “That´s the spleen, that one´s a liver”- and there is a fascinating sequence of sculptures that will end those “Where do babies come from?” questions once and for all. There is a giant human cell, and I know my three year old didn´t grasp the concept of mitochondrion but still enjoyed making the different shapes light up. I believe it´s building a foundation that will make it easier to understand the concepts of biology later on.

Very safe place. Very clean, as can be expected at a hygiene museum.

7 euros, free for kids up to 16; 11 euros for two adults & at least 1child

We were pleasantly surprised to get the whole family in for just 11 EUR. A single adult ticket is 10 EUR. Children up to 16 are free.  Also, there is a free coatcheck, and it´s free to use the museum´s strollers.

Our whole family enjoyed our day here very much. The Children´s Museum is only two big rooms, but you can spend hours in there. The exhibit takes you though the five senses, starting with sight. There is a small mirror maze, distortion mirrors and optical illusions. The sense of hearing is demonstrated by banging a drum to makes waves in a water pool that represents the inner ear. In another exhibit, striking a gong makes a ball resonate as kids hold it in their hands. There are tubes coming from the ceiling with recordings that activate as you step under them – everything from seagulls to flatulence. And if you know kids, you know they´re going to step under that tube and laugh hysterically, over and over again.  In the smell exhibit, there are stacks of boxes which puff out a burst of scent as you squeeze a pump, and the game is to identify the smell. The taste section is limited, obviously, but the feeling section has many guessing games involving texture, weight, etc. There is even a dark passage you have to feel your way through, with blasts of air and different things nailed onto the walls. There are exhibits to show how children learn Braille and sign language. There are structures that only kids are allowed to climb on, and binoculars and other surprises for them when they get up there. When they´re all tuckered out, they can climb inside padded “audio caves” to hear stories like Winnie the Pooh read in German. In all, these things they see in just one day will help them understand how they experience the world from then on, and you will find yourselves referring back to these exhibits as more questions arise in the future.


Other places from the One for the weekend series:

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