History of the Science Center
The idea of creating a place of education where people can learn about science through demonstrations and experiments dates back to the early seventeenth century, when the philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon described his “Solomon’s House”, an institution that offered exactly those possibilities.
The world’s first Science Center
But the idea was not acually put into practice until much later, and it happened here in Berlin. The Urania, which was founded in 1888 and survived in its original form until 1928, offered a collection of high-precision scientific instruments, an observatory, a scientific theatre and a hall of experiments for everybody. Here anyone who was interested could try out nearly 100 experiments. In those days many of these were set up as “push-button” experiments, where pressing a button made something happen.
The first modern science centers
When it opened in 1969, Frank Oppenheimer’s Exploratorium in San Francisco was the world’s first modern science centre. Here visitors were given much broader scope to experiment on their own. The first such centre in Germany was at the Museum of Transport and Technology (today German Museum of Technology), which from its early days in 1982/83 possessed a large modern experimentation department called Versuchsfeld (today Science Center Spectrum). These days there are more than a dozen science centres of various sizes in Germany.
As well as the experiments, you will also find here a small collection of high-precision scientific instruments and documents from the time of the old Berlin Urania.