Arithmeum Bonn – A Museum about Calculations

Arithmeum Bonn



4.4/5 Pros

  • Very theoretical topic, well presented
  • A lot of hand-on and self-experience parts
  • The chip design section is excellent
  • Fair admission pricing Cons

  • The chip design posters are not very obvious to understand at first sight
  • Practically, only accessible by local transport

A Calculation Museum? Sounds like a place for die-hard nerds – but the Arithmeum in Bonn is really a popular place with very good ratings. As I studied Maths (and Computer Science), I just had to visit this place one day, which is in fact driven by the Research Institute for Discrete Mathematics of the University of Bonn.


Arithmeum Bonn – Location & Admission

The Arithmeum is located in the Leneestrasse, which is really the heart of the Bonn University district. The University Canteen is close, there is also the Central University Library and some institutes in very close distance. I would highly recommend to go there by subway (Juridicum or Universität/Markt station) – it is only a short walk (even from the main station) and the parking situation is ridiculously bad in that area.

Adult admission is 3 Euro. The museum opens it doors from Tuesday to Sunday, 11:00 to 18:00 hrs. The museum is in German only. There are, however, several places, where you can grab English and other language translations of the exhibitions and interactive displays.


Arithmeum Bonn – Historic Calculations & Calculators

The exhibitions more or less splits into two parts. I would see the history of calculations and the collection of calculatiors as the core part of the Arithmeum. Starting with very early ages of number systems and how they lead to calculation, you run through the centuries of calculation machines. Especially the comparably new machines are very fancy and beautifully designed.

One characteristic of the museum is that they try to be as interactive as possible. Of course, there are a lot of exhibits which are too valuable or too fragile for this, but quite a bunch of exhibits (or replicas of them) can be used in practice. This is definitely much more fun than it might sound at the very beginning.


Arithmeum Bonn – Chip Design

At the beginning of your visit, it may be very confusing that a lot of colored print-outs are posted everywhere on the walls of the museum. This feels very confusing at the very beginning, but the more you go through the exhibition (and especially the exhibition about modern chip design), the more you understand how these colored posters correspond to chip design and how different layers and functional elements are optimized.

Again, the museum tries to be interactive, allowing you to use a microscope on a chip to to explain you the challenges of chip design. There is also very motivated and friendly staff who can give you good explanations.

Finally, one section of the exibition which at least held us in the museum for 45 minutes itself were some board games and puzzles which perfectly illustrate what the students are doing in their optimization works around chip design.


Arithmeum Bonn – My View

Calculation Museum – the Arithmeum sounds like such a lousy and boring place at first sight – but the Institute and their staff really did a great job that you experience calculation, that you can feel optimization and that you can put a hand on chip design. In major part of the exhibition, they absolutely succeeded to also explain the mechanisms in the calculators, which are really fascinating. Overall, it is a very good place with a well deserved Top Pick! rating. in Bonn

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