When I went to Dortmund for the first time in 2012, there were signs across the street from the train station saying there was a football museum coming soon. I quietly thought to myself, “they’d better wait until after 2014 to open.”
That museum must have had mind-reading technology -or the ability to look ahead to the fourth star- because the museum opened up just a few months ago.
So towards the end of 2015, with my non-football-loving family in town, we headed to the museum to welcome them to my world. Cue my inner Calvin olll9l-uiuuiui8uiof Calvin and Hobbes running around a dinosaur museum.
It stood out against the drab buildings Dortmund is known for across from the train station. The white facade with a ball drenched in black, red and yellow makes it known that everything German football is here. From the other side of the street, a quote from Hamburger SV managerial great Ernst Happel can be seen on the ground floor. “A day without football is a lost day” it reads. In honesty, after going through this museum, one gets the impression that Germany would be a lost country without football.
After an escalator takes you through the sights and sounds of gameday to the top floor, you find yourself right in front of the greatest moment in German football history: Das Wunder von Bern.
The entire starting 11 is on display, along with trinkets from their playing days. The boot used by Helmut Rahn on that dreary 4th of July is bronzed and on display. Yeah, there’s a very good reason it’s behind glass; I would have salivated over it like Homer Simpson does for donuts.
The next room looks like a typical room in 1950’s Germany. Nothing too fancy. But there’s a voice that’s ringing out, an incredibly excited voice. It’s Herbert Zimmermann’s call of the 1954 Final in his own exhibition in the museum. The man who provided the most famous sports broadcast during the most important moment in German football history got his part, with a constant crowd trying to nudge and budge their way in.
And then the museum opened wide with three halls; the main passage plastered with the big games and names across history, the left side composed of football in East Germany, and the right side had an extensive look at the game’s beginnings in Germany in the 19th century when it was called the “English Disease” and an insult to the Kaiser.
If there was any concerns about avoiding ugly moments in German history, the museum did not skip over the Nazi era, showing programs from matchdays and depicting the tragedy of Julius Hirsch, the first Jew to play for the German national side before being deported to Auschwitz.
Being the only nation to have won both men’s and women’s World Cups, there had to be a section on the women’s game. While not as extensive as it could have been, there’s still a lot of history to take in.
And then a look at the Golden Generation. After disaster in the Euro 2000 group stage, a massive overhaul took place in Germany’s youth system. With a film narrated by National Team Head Coach Joachim Löw, it shows how close Germany came every year since 2006 until finally the triumph in 2014 turned silver into gold.
One could spend the entire day running around just the top level, debating whether Geoff Hurst’s second goal in the 1966 World Cup Final really crossed the line from multiple angles (not surprisingly most visitors say it did not). But with only 30 minutes to closing, and a film before moving on to the next floor, my brother and I had to pull my mother away from the wall of German football history.
“But I’m not done, yet!” she said over and over. But we had to get moving.
After a hologram film with the members of the 2014 World Cup winning team (no subtitles here) we moved down to the history of the football leagues in Germany. While there was less to see on this level, we did not get a good grasp on what was laid out for us with the clock running out.
After heading down to the main level, we got to go through the sleek team bus at the 2014 World Cup and exit through the gift shop. If only there was more time.
Throughout the tour, I repeatedly asked staffers if there was any way that I could just stay there and walk around during the day. I wasn’t joking. This museum goes through every facet of German football history — from the triumphs to the tragedies and mysteries surrounding the German game, this place has everything a football fan could want. Ticket prices are steep (17€ for adults, 14€ for students) but this is absolutely worth every penny, even for my family who are not as into the game as I am. This is simply one of the best museums I have ever been to. Just give yourself much more than two hours.
Oh, and don’t worry if you don’t know German. The exhibits are in German and English, except for the big movies. No subtitles there.
|Virtually anything you would want to know about German football is here||Pricey entrance fee, though far less expensive than a Borussia Dortmund match|
|Many interactive elements, including listening to the West and East German broadcasts of the 1974 World Cup meeting between East and West||Women’s football section could be expanded|
|Did not shy away from dark moments, including football’s role in Naziism and mysterious deaths/disappearances of players in East Germany|
|Exhibits are in both German and English|
|Wonderful, helpful staff that speaks German and English|
|Conveniently next to the train station|
Overall rating: 5/5