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New Museum at RKI: An authentic window on science and health protection

Press Release by Robert Koch Institute and the Museum für Naturkunde

A new Museum at the Robert Koch Institute presents exhibits and information on infection prevention, health research and the scientific legacy of Robert Koch. The Federal Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe stressed on the occasion of the opening of the Museum on 30 November 2017: “Science has brought forth tremendous medical achievements thanks to which human health protection today is better than ever before. These scientific achievements are now on display in the Museum at the Robert Koch Institute. The scientists who work at the Robert Koch Institute do an outstanding job every day in their quest for new insights and to keep us all as safe as possible from any emerging health threats.”

“This Museum is a special place; there are not many research institutions in the world to boast such a gem”, said RKI President Lothar H. Wieler. The permanent exhibition at the historical site at the Northern embankment of Berlin’s Wedding provides an overview of the factors influencing health. It shows the research by RKI on the risks and protection factors for the health of the population and the relevance the ideas and discoveries of Robert Koch and his scholars still have. In the mausoleum of Robert Koch, in which the founder of the Institute was entombed in 1910, the memory of the co-founder of microbiology and Nobel Prize winner can be experienced in a very special manner.

A Museum had already been created shortly after the entombment; it showed exclusively exhibits relating to Robert Koch and had not been changed for more than fifty years. On the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the Institute in 2016 it was considerably enlarged and significantly extended in terms of content and re-designed with the support of the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin. “The Museum für Naturkunde – Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science is an integrated research museum. The dissemination of knowledge is in addition to research and the collections a central pillar of the Museum”, Johannes Vogel, Director General of the Museum für Naturkunde, emphasised. “We are proud to have the opportunity to cooperate with such a renowned partner as RKI.”

The leitmotif of the Institute, which applied already at the time of Robert Koch and was formulated in a contemporary manner for the RKI Strategy 2025, runs through the new Museum: create reliable, evidence-based data on the basis of science and research with state of the art, partly proprietary methods, share the knowledge and protect and improve the health of the population.

The Museum presents six major topics: research methods and infection prevention from Koch to date, the influence of personal behaviour and social circumstances on health, monitoring and surveillance, One Health as well as Global Health. The exhibits include, for instance, an incubator in which the later Nobel Prize winner cultivated bacteria and a blow gun with which RKI scientists are stunning wild animals in Africa today, to look for pathogens in them which could represent a risk for humans. A diagram on the disease burden shows that infectious diseases prevailed in the past and that non-transferable diseases dominate today. The interactive “musketeer principle” shows in a modelling how the vaccination readiness of every single person has an influence on the other persons in the community. In the former Museum room, a video installation is presented, amongst other exhibits, in which staff members and cooperation partners of the Institute express their views.

The German and English exhibition developed by “Schiel Project” together with RKI and the Museum für Naturkunde opens on 1 December 2017, Monday to Thursday 10am to 5pm, Friday 10am to 3pm (photos for the media: www.rki.de/fotos-museum).

Date: 29.11.2017