The Senckenberg Naturmuseum Frankfurt has opened a new permanent exhibition highlight in time for the start of the summer holidays: The "Coral Reef". As part of the modular conversion project "New Senckenberg Museum Frankfurt", a fascinating display of this species-rich and productive ecosystem has been created, which is not only great to look at, but also makes clear the importance of coral reefs for marine wildlife as well as for our entire ecosystem.
Centrally located in the middle of the room is the main object of the exhibition - a habitat representation of an Indonesian coral reef by day and by night. The six-metre wide, three-metre long and up to 3.3-metre high replica features around 3,000 individuals: from a hawksbill turtle with cleaner fish in a cleaning station, to sharks hunting, to a coconut octopus in a shell. Symbiotic relationships are also depicted, such as the tiny pygmy seahorse living in the coral fans of a soft coral, a gorgonian. And hovering next to the reef is a 1:1 model of a reef manta ray. It seems to be taking a dive to catch plankton from the nutrient-rich water on the reef slope. There really is a lot for visitors to discover here. Curator Philipe Havlik describes it perfectly when he compares this habitat representation to a large hidden object picture that has many different stories to tell.
Complementing this, interviews with actors* from Europe and the Pacific region provide insights into life worlds there and how they deal with the reef ecosystem. "It was important to us to present this habitat in all its facets," says museum director Dr Brigitte Franzen. "This includes the animal and human living worlds as two inseparable spheres. We enable our visitors* to discover an important and threatened part of the earth in the middle of Frankfurt that is not so easily accessible - we invite them to literally 'dive' into our exhibition space, to experience the coral reef ecosystem and to understand the social-ecological connections," says Franzen. "The exhibition points the way to how we will understand and develop the New Museum."
The design of the space addresses the different levels represented: Benches invite visitors to linger, a beamer projects facts about the ecosystem on the ceiling, an interactive station allows visitors to test what happens to a reef when the water temperature increases, media stations allow encounters with reef actors.
Zoological taxidermist Hildegard Enting, together with her team consisting of Kay Weber, Anna Frenkel, Sylva Scheer and Ute Raudonat, worked on the reef over a period of three years, building models, colouring and processing existing material. "For us, the close cooperation with our scientists* was very important," explains Enting. "We asked the respective experts from Senckenberg and the ZMT about the different species and critically discussed our models with them - in some cases down to the smallest detail, even though we know that these subtleties will hardly be visible in the exhibition later. We always wanted the objects to be realistic and also correct from the researchers' point of view," explains Enting.
The new permanent exhibition "Coral Reef" is a small gateway into a truly fascinating habitat. It succeeds very well not only to impress visually, but also to convey important information. There's no question about it: it has made a visit to the Senckenberg Naturmuseum even more worthwhile.
Combination tickets: 12 euros for adults, 6 euros for children and young people (6 to 15 years) and 30 euros for families (2 adults and up to 3 children).
Opening hours: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri 9am - 5pm, Wed 9am - 8pm, Sat, Sun and holidays 9am - 6pm.