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2500m2 in exhibition space
Emsland Moormuseum
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60 sheep, 22 pigs, 18 chickens, 10 geese
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1 Loc, 5 carriages, 45 seats, 3 stations, 2.8km field railway
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Resting areas, Info points, theme-based routes
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You are here: Museum

Permanent collection and locations

Collection and preservation


A museum and collection of stature

Emsland Moormuseum is a leading institution in Europe. The museum collects information and objects on the history of moorland and peat, carries out research, and stores and exhibits items. German companies often developed and built peat cutting machinery within and even beyond a European market. Emsland Moormuseum can be justifiably proud of its extensive technological collection. Many years of efforts led to the establishment of a scientific library which promotes cooperation with other scientific establishments in Germany and the Netherlands. With research on the technology of peat cutting, land use and product development regarding the peat industry still insufficient, many avenues are open for future scholarly endeavours. Historical, geographical, natural history and technical records are being collected with an international perspective. Examples include the Richard collection at Emsland Moormuseum, which, with more than 16 metres of shelves, is one of the most important special collections on the subject of peat cutting technology, as well as the holdings of the former Peat Research Hanover and the Bad Zwischenahn Peat and Humus Service. In addition, the museum has an image archive containing some 10,000 photographs pertaining to the collection, and an even greater number of photographic plates and a significant number of photo albums. Also of outstanding significance is the collection of plans with technical drawings on the subjects of wasteland cultivation, industrial peat cutting and regional settlement history. Emsland Moormuseum aims to continue expanding its collections.

Nature park centre in the Moor-Veenland nature park

Economic exploitation and the concomitant changes in the landscape left Bourtanger Moor consisting only of residual peatland areas. In 2006, these areas were joined together in the cross-border German-Dutch “Naturpark Moor-Veenland“ nature park – not least with the aims of consolidating conservation of the intact upland peat areas and adding the upland peat areas still in use to the area of nature conservation. In addition, tourism needs to be promoted in this region. In the next 15 years further areas which have been fully or partly excavated will become areas of nature conservation following successful renaturalization, and the nature reserve will thus undergo further growth and realignment. Serving as a centre to the nature park, Emsland Moormuseum offers both historical and ecological expertise in the transfer of knowledge.

Emsland Moormuseum mission

Emsland Moormuseum is situated in the municipality of Geeste near the Netherlands-German border, surrounded by the international Bourtanger Moor – Bargerveen nature park. It has 30ha of outdoor grounds, containing renaturalized upland peat areas and settler’s farms, which are accessible via the field railway and plank paths. The museum boasts two state-of-the-art exhibition halls, together providing 2,500m² of exhibition space, and a museum café. Emsland Moormuseum’s public mission is to collect, preserve, research and convey knowledge about peatland and peat cultivation in northwestern Germany. In this endeavour, the museum follows the guidelines of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the German Museum Association (Deutschen Museumsbundes) and the Lower Saxony and Bremen Museum Guild. Currently the largest European museum devoted to peat moorland, Emsland Moormuseum has a unique collection on the origins of the moorland, its development and cultivation, its settlement, the Emsland Plan, peat extraction and production as well as peatland conservation and issues relating to the renaturalization of peat moorland. Emsland Moormuseum is renowned nationally and internationally as a museum and research location. The work of all the staff of Emsland Moormuseum focuses on serving the museum’s visitors. Our aim is to meet your needs and wishes. A wide range of educational offerings promote active learning, while visitors can enjoy peace and quiet and recreation in the spacious outdoor grounds and adjoining peat moorland locations. Based on a principle of lifelong learning and education for sustainable development, we hope to leave our visitors with warm feelings about the peatlands, as well as a greater understanding of the largely disturbed ecosystem. The sustainable management of peatlands is a main focus of teaching in schools and universities: interdisciplinary, based on historical developments, and addressing current, ecological core topics. This makes every employee and every position at Emsland Moormuseum of vital importance. All our employees have the requisite knowledge and skills to perform their jobs, are responsible and trustworthy, and are integrated into and accepted by their team. This is the only way to reconcile the constantly changing demands on the museum with the immutable nature of its mission. Photograph: Emsland Moormuseum employees during a visit to Zollern colliary in the Bövinghausen suburb of Dortmund.

Origin of Emsland Moormuseum

Origin of Emsland Moormuseum:
Emsland Moormuseum has its origins in the local history and tourist association Heimat- und Verkehrsverein Groß Hesepe e.V. In the 1970s, after cultivation work within the framework of the Emsland plan had ended, heavy machinery produced by the company Ottomeyer, such as traction engines, steam ploughs and earthmovers, remained in Emsland. Having become redundant at the end of the works, these machines were entrusted to the Heimatverein Groß Hesepe association (of the municipality of Geeste) to be exhibited. Soon after, several peat extraction and peat processing machines and manual tools from the times of agricultural peat extraction, which had become obsolete due to continuing technological progress in the region, were added to the collection. The machines and tools were accommodated in a residual peat moorland area with an initial surface area of 20ha, which was made available to the Heimatverein by the municipality of Geeste. In 1984 a hall with an administrative and residential wing was built, and extended two years later with an exhibition area. It was possible to open another building in 1992 to house the administration and museum restaurant, but attempts to stabilise the Moormuseum economically remained unsuccessful. Not least due to these problems, which needed to be solved in light of the museum’s increasing stature, a reorganization took place in 2003/2004. A new sponsoring association was founded in the form of Emsland Moormuseum e.V., to which the Emsland district, the municipality of Geeste, the Emsland Heimatbund, the Geeste local association and individuals from social and economic life are affiliated. At the same time, a scientific management was entrusted with the planned conversion and expansion of Emsland Moormuseum.

Rebuilding and expansion

In 2005 and 2006, the museum’s old exhibition hall was fundamentally renovated within the framework of a cross-border, EU-funded project called “Spuren im Moor” – “Sporen in het veen” (tracks in the peat) developed together with the Industrial Narrow-Gauge Railway Museum in Erica, the Netherlands. This was followed by the redesign and reorganization of the entire permanent exhibition. The entirely renewed exhibition hall now has an exhibition area of around 1,000m², providing information about life in the peat moorland, the colonization of the area and the history of peat extraction until 1920. The exhibition hall includes a small cinema showing a selection of historical films. Due to the poor condition of the Ottomeyer company machines that had been standing in the open air for decades, a solution also needed to be found for the restoration and preservation of the Ottomeyer plough and the two traction engines, all of international technological and cultural significance. Another European project established within the framework of the national Bourtanger Moor nature park finally helped fund the building of an additional exhibition hall. The new exhibition hall, which opened in the summer of 2010, offering a further 1,800 m² of exhibition space, is devoted on the ground floor to the “Emslandplan“, a 1950s and ’60s spatial redevelopment plan that would radically change wide parts of the region in terms of landscape and infrastructure. The upper floor will soon be devoted to the themes of peat extraction/peat moorland protection and the history of peatland research from 1930. The hall also contains an additional area for temporary exhibitions.


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