The tour "Hard coal. Engine of Industrialisation" is the museum's most prominent tour. It examines the rise of hard coal as an energy resource and the social, economic and ecological implications of its mining. The tour's design is deliberately varied, reflecting the complexity and many-sidedness of its theme.
Upon entering the tour, visitors stand in front of one of the museum's highlight exhibits: a petrified tree stump from the Carboniferous Period that is over 300 million years old. The restored exhibit's size and unique structures attract immediate attention. Presented on small stilts, visitors perceive the rootstock almost floating above the ground. The atmospheric lighting and two elongated light boxes that interplay green tones give the impression of a primaeval forest.
The tour uses the central line of sight, which appears when entering the tour's different spaces, as a connecting principle. For example, by walking down a steep ramp into the "Underground", guests start to walk into a different world. As they descend, a view of atmospherically illuminated machines gathered in a basin located below reveals itself.
In the penultimate room, an original 6 m long conveyor belt deliberately structures the central axis of the room. A chronicle of the events between 1945 and 2018 is projected onto the belt by two synchronised laser beamers. The illustrated timeline connects central events of mining history with political, economic and cultural events. The projection of the chronicle runs along the conveyor belt, giving the impression that it is running.
The Eternal Task
The tour ends with a look at the present of the former coal mining areas. Even though extraction ended with the end of German hard coal mining, the so-called eternal tasks remain. The pumping of vast amounts of mine water is amongst the most important of these tasks. This ensures that the Ruhr area, which sunk sharply due to former mining, is not flooded by high-pressure underground water. A 1:1 model of a mining water pump stands in the centre of a mirrored cabinet. The walls of the cabinet are all mirrored. Visitors looking into the cabinet from outside only see a floating water pump. Once inside, an endless number of pumps are reflected on the cabinet's walls. A simple technical counter runs continuously, showing exactly-- to the second -- how much water has been pumped since the end of the mining operations on January 1, 2019.