Though there is the amazing tiny Zeppelin Museum in Meersburg, not too far away, people tend to think about the Friedrichshafen museum when they think of exhibitions about the airships. During my Lake Constance trip in May/June 2020, these museums, alongside other interesting aviation points like the Dornier Museum or the Überlingen Air Crash Memorials, were key points of visit. Here are my thoughts about the Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen.
Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen – Location & Admission
The location is located right at the harbor front of Friedrichshafen. The ferry to Romanshorn, Switzerland, is departing just few meters East of the exhibition. The scheduled boat rides on Lake Constance are leaving right in front of the museum. It is very easy to reach the museum by local transport, as the train station Friedshafen Hafen is just a block away, as well as the central bus station. If you come by car, there is quite some parking space, but this may be limited on the weekends, when Swiss people crowd German Lake Constance for shopping. The nearby Parkhaus Altstadt (“Old Town Parking Garage”) is 1.80 Euro per hour, daytime, with a daily maximum of 15 Euro.
Opening times have been altered due to Covid-19. At the time of writing, the museum is opening 10:00 to 18:00 hours daily May to September. October closing is 17:00 hrs. In addition, in low season winter time (November to April), the museum is closed on Mondays. There used to be combination tickets, e.g. with the Dornier Museum, but currently, visitors are asked to pre-book tickets online. Adult admission for the museum is 11 Euro.
Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen – The Visit
I started my visit at the museum with a special exhibit, Connecting The World, which deals with the first flights over the Atlantic Ocean and how the airships took part of these new travel and transport possibilities. Very interesting stuff, which also showed the technical evolution of Zeppelins – you could even sent free postcards worldwide – not sure if all mine really reached my beloved people 🙂
The lower level of the main exhibition showed a lot of memorabilia of Ferdinand Count of Zeppelin and his most most famous airship, the LZ 129, more well-known as the Hindenburg. On the personal side, you see parts of Zeppelin’s car collection – but there are quite a few items like original paperwork, tableware, menus and similar stuff of the LZ 129, which burned out during its landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 1937.
The heart of the exhibition is a partial reconstruction of the Hindenburg airship, which you can already see from ground floor, but enter from first floor. For example, you see a reconstruction of the restaurant on board and the cabins, which were comparably comfortable.
After this part of the exhibition, you see a major section about the Hindenburg disaster. There are a lot of original exhibits and a lot of information about the accident, which cause has still not been clearly identified. The museum exhibit gives some of the most popular theories what happened in Lakehurst – and also reasons, why they are probable or rather wrong.
The largest section on first floor, however, are numerous model displays of German, British and American airships. There are also a lot of original navigation instruments, uniform pieces etc. in the glass boxes – which are unfortunately very reflecting, so that I just took a few pictures.
A very nice part of the first floor exhibition is the interactive Giants in Motion Experimental Room (“Giganten in Bewegung – Experimentierraum”). On the one hand, you learn about how Zeppelin airships connected the world – but there are also some simulators which allow you to explore the aerodynamics and navigation of the airships.
There was also an arts collection on the 2nd floor, which I felt did not really suit to the rest of the museum. Furthermore, photography was not allowed in there so that I skip it in my review.
Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen – Services
On ground floor, there is a large souvenir store, which also allows you to buy a bit of weird souvenir stuff like Zeppelin socks. They really have a nice selection of models and books as well.
The museum restaurant, which features a lovely terrace with a view of Friedrichshafen Harbor, was unfortunately closed during my visit.
There are free toilets inside the exhibition. The largest toilet, however, is public and in the lobby area. You can open it with the barcode of your entrance ticket or pay and entrance fee.
Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen – My View
Friedrichshafen is indeed a place to go for aviation lovers. Dornier and Zeppelin make it a must-visit. The reconstruction of the Hindenburg is indeed really interesting and also the remaining exhibition is a lot of fun. Military airships are definitely quite under-represented – the museum stays too civil. I definitely recommend to stop by at the Zeppelin Museum in Meersburg when you are around (which is my favorite) – but the Friedshafen place should definitely not be missed – it’s a good one!
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