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About the Museum Port history at two locations

Hamburg is getting a new museum, the German Port Museum. This is planned as a “two-location museum”. A new building is to be erected in the Grasbrook district.The second location can be found on the site around the historic sheds 50A.

Historic sheds, ships and old crafts

The new museum will be dedicated to the manifold significance of the special port interface and its role in history, today and in the future.

On the grounds around the historic 50s sheds, original works and vehicles, as well as a number of volunteers, will allow visitors to vividly experience an important period in the port’s history: the time of cargo handling before the introduction of the container. In the former free port, on the last quay ensemble of the imperial era, which is protected as a historic monument, enormous cranes tower into the sky, historic freight cars stand on the original rails of the port railroad and a coal-fired floating steam crane, the general cargo freighter “MS Bleichen” and other historic watercraft lie in the harbor basin. The most eye-catching and impressive large object among these weighty contemporary witnesses is the more than 100-year-old four-masted barque PEKING.

PEKING, the 50s sheds in the back. Foto: SHMH / Jan Sieg

In addition, the show depot housed in the southern part of Shed 50A brings together some 10,000 objects on the subjects of port work, cargo handling, shipbuilding and revier shipping on an area of around 2,500 square meters. A separate section of the exhibition is then devoted to the object that changed much of everyday port life: the container. Here there is information about the beginnings and aberrations of containerization, about typical professions of this era, and about the art of lashing – i.e. mooring – containers on ships.

New museum in a new district

Thanks to two locations, the museum can cover very different subject areas and educational offerings. The new building to be constructed on Kleiner Grasbrook and the area around the historic 50s sheds, which is already used as a museum, complement each other and are to be further developed into a special place of experience.

The importance of international maritime trade for people’s lives is to be shown in the planned new building on the broad spectrum of the economic and cultural history of a port. The building is expected to be completed in the second half of the 2020s. This is the context in which the German Port Museum operates as a “museum of globalization”.

One of the first drafts for the new museum. – Copyright moka-studio / HafenCity Hamburg GmbH / Herzog & de Meuron / Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten

The leading object of the German Port Museum has moored at the Bremen quay in front of the 50s sheds and will move to Grasbrook when the new building is completed: the PEKING.

The four-masted barque was built in 1911 at Blohm & Voss for the Hamburg shipping company Laeisz and returned to Hamburg in 2020. The PEKING is one of the last large cargo sailing ships that could still compete against steam and machine ships at the beginning of the 20th century due to their speed, safety and precision. She proved this above all as a transport ship for saltpetre from Chile, which was in high demand in Europe at the time.


Hafenmanufaktur – Old crafts revived

During the season of the German Port Museum, the Hafenmanufaktur is open for seminars and workshops. There you can gain insights into trades that are essential for building or operating ships. Participants in the seminars, which usually last two or three days, learn basic skills in blacksmithing, sailmaking, netmaking and rigging.

Rigging is one of the workshops offered as part of the Hafenmanufaktur.

Permanent Exhibitions