MS Wissenschaft – the floating science center

The exhibition ship, moored nearby Albert’s bridge in Dresden. Source: Maren Grüber/WiD

Since 2002, the exhibition ship “MS Wissenschaft” is on tour for several months a year. With the aim of presenting science you can “touch” and explaining it by playful means, it docks at 35-40 cities for a few days each. 80 000 people are visiting per year on an average, among them several hundred school classes. Most of the usually interactive exhibition pieces are contributed by institutes and universities, who use the opportunity to present their research work in unconventional ways to public. Admission is free of charge.

Five months, 40 cities, 4000 kilometers and 87,000 visitors later the floating science centre aboard MS Wissenschaft has completed its 2015 tour. We would like to thank all those who came on board to learn more about the ‘City of the Future’. In 2016 a new exhibition will again offer fascinating insights into research.

City of the Future

A city in ecological balance – Institute’s director Bernhard Müller explaining the exhibit to Federal Minister Johanna Wanka (middle) and Antje Boetius (left), chairwoman of Wissenschaft im Dialog's executive committee. The sample was contributed to the exhibition “City of the Future” on MS Wissenschaft 2015 by Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development. Source: Ilja Hendel/WiD

Usually, the ship’s main exhibition theme matches the current Science Year’s topic, which is being proclaimed annually by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany and Wissenschaft im Dialog. With the objective of presenting how science, research and technology are contributing to shape our society’s future and develop ideas for future-proof cities, both 2015’s Science Year and MS Wissenschaft are focusing on the “City of the Future”. Within three areas, the exhibition concentrates on the following questions: What constitutes a city? How does a city function? How can we make our cities viable for the future?

At the hands-on display items developed specially for the exhibition, visitors can become creative and construct their own homes or cities of the future. Therefore, about 30 participating research institutes and universities discuss different aspects on the basis of their exhibition pieces inside the ship: Basically, it is all a question of mobility and connectivity, energy and clima, nature within the city, new housing types and social as well as economic developments.

Exploring the challenges and opportunities of our generation

The owl’s game “Loss of the Night” deals with the impacts of artificial light in order to develop more sustainable concepts for urban lightning. Source: Ilja Hendel/WiD

Since the ongoing expansion of electrification correlates with light pollution, we do not only have to question how nature tolerates this “loss of night”, but we must also consider the influence of ongoing illumination of the night on our health. By playfully exploring an owl’s living environment, the exhibition piece provided by Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries helps the visitors understand the difficulties of modern development.

The exhibition piece “Blackout” built by Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin illustrates how crucial the maintenance of resilient electricity networks is, since everything from hospital technology to communication and public transport depends upon electric power.

When it comes to transport, not just cheap energy is required. Traffic jams caused by too little space are also a relevant problem. So why don’t we get out of the way and into the air? The item “Flying Cars”, constructed by Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, explores the possibilities for doing so.

Participatory science communication

Cities of the future from the past – how have town planners been working in former times? Historical maps can provide some information. Source: Ilja Hendel/WiD

Various events and workshops for pupils are planned in addition to the exhibition. For instance, interested visitors gain the possibility of meeting the scientists behind the exhibition pieces personally. Another series of events, “Dialog an Deck”, allows a narrowly focused discussion round between experts on particular scientific issues in front of a lay audience. 

Furthermore, a photo contest was announced. Since the Science Year 2015 is focusing on the City of the Future, participants are invited to uploading pictures representing their ideas of favorite places within a city. The competition is open for all amateur photographers and ends on 16 October 2015.

The exhibition ship MS Wissenschaft was implemented by Wissenschaft im Dialog on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Germany.

Science Year 2015


April 15th - September 26th, 2015. For further information, visit thetour page (German)



Click and download!



10.00 am – 07.00 pm

Admission is free.



The exhibition is suitable for visitors from the age of 12 upwards.

Die MS Wissenschaft 2015 in Social Networks