A Day At the Museum: Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum

Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum
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Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum in Paderborn, Germany

Museums in Germany are totally world-class, and it’s true that the whole country is brimming with hundreds of it. Personally, I have been to the museum-fan’s dream of a place called Museumsufer in Frankfurt where museums are all lined up in a row — all you have to do is choose or visit them all! But there’s one museum that I became excited about upon reading about it: Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum in Paderborn.

About Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum

Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum is a museum with a conference hall located in Paderborn, a city in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. This museum is named after Heinz Nixdorf, the founder of Nixdorf Computer AG and a pioneer of German computing industry. The museum building itself used to be the headquarters of Nixdorf Computer AG. Opened in 1996, Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum is the world’s largest computer museum.

Museum Space

The museum collection is contained in four floors of the building. The first building will take you back to the beginnings of writings systems, eventually to the era of printing and calculating machines. The second floor presents the birth of innovation that spurred today’s technologies. Programming marvels and computer pioneers are on the third floor, and a temporary exhibition is on the fourth.

Going around the whole museum would take you back to computer class in high school, where history was discussed. My husband and I were thrilled to see some of the machines in the flesh.

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The linotype, invented in 1884.
The linotype, invented in 1884.

Here’s the linotype, which helped revolutionise typesetting and printing. This is the same machine that paved the way for newspaper printing.

One of the perspective machines designed by artist Albrecht Dürer in the 1500s
One of the perspective machines designed by artist Albrecht Dürer in the 1500s

A perspective machine was designed to aid artists to draw their subjects so that they represent them as exact as possible.

Some of the earliest cash registers on display
Some of the earliest cash registers on display
Another one of the early cash registers, one of two that you can touch and use
Another one of the early cash registers, one of two that you can touch and use

Situated in the one of the floors is a small area where you will find books formed into an arch. The books are about cryptography during World War II and Alan Turing. Walk through the arch and you will find tall glass showcases. You’re in luck to find two of the surviving units of the Enigma machine.

All the books on cryptography and Alan Turing on the arch
All the books on cryptography and Alan Turing on the arch
The Enigma Machine and me
The Enigma Machine and me

Besides the Enigma machine, there are other devices from history on display.

The Dynamo machine
The Dynamo machine
The Morse Telegraph
The Morse Telegraph

After the machines, you will find a sizeable exhibition on the beginnings of mobile technology, starting from pagers to cellphones to computers.

Pagers!
Pagers!
The Motorola Dyna Tac.
The Motorola Dyna Tac.

Walking through the exhibition on pagers and cellphones made me feel old. I saw some of the mobile phones that I had before!

One of the best parts of the museum is interactivity. Each exhibition provides the visitor a chance to experience the machines. One of which is arcade games and trying out some of the first and popular games ever produced. Also included in interactivity is using the flight simulator!

The Invaders arcade game
The Invaders arcade game

pong
pong
Pac-man!
Pac-man!
My husband trying out the Lockheed Martin flight simulator, Prepar3D.
My husband trying out the Lockheed Martin flight simulator, Prepar3D.

While you’re at it, treat yourself to an interesting and amusing introduction to programming. A section of the museum is dedicated to programming, featuring a station encouraging visitors to „program the cats“.

"Program the Cats“ station
“Program the Cats“ station

Overall, the museum provided a very fun-filled, enjoyable, and informative world-class experience. Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum truly delivered, with us visitors being able to participate in the interactive offerings. 

To cap it all off, here’s a portrait of the founder himself in mosaic made from computer keys.

Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum
Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum

How to get to the museum:

From Paderborn Hauptbahnhof, ride the number 11 bus. Bus stop should be MuseumsForum. Or, if you want to do a little sightseeing along the way, walk to the museum from the station. It takes roughly around 20 to 30 minutes on foot to the get there. The museum will be on your left.

Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum
Fürstenallee 7
D-33102 Paderborn
Entrance fee: EUR 7,00 per person.

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