On two floors, the permanent exhibition presents exciting exhibits, working models of historic devices and interactive stations. Large film projections invite visitors to explore moving images and experience the fascination of the medium of film.
The first part of the permanent exhibition, located on the second floor of the Museum, focuses on the diverse visual media of the 18th and 19th centuries and the invention of film. On the basis of the prehistory and early history of film, the question of how cinematic perception works and from which traditions it derives is explained. The exhibition is organized around the themes of curiosity, movement, recording, projection, the moving image and cinema.
This section presents historical apparatuses that play with the pleasure of looking and the deception of perception, such as peep-boxes, anamorphoses, and kaleidoscopes. Visitors to the exhibition are invited to use models to understand how the apparatuses work: Mirrors are used to decode the distorted images of anamorphoses, a peep-box reveals how transparent images are transformed, and a night view is created from a day view by cleverly directing the light.
Long before the advent of film, devices such as the phénakisticope, the zoetrope, and the flip book were used to create moving images. The exhibition explains why people see continuous movement in a sequence of still images. Visitors will experience these marvelous inventions first-hand.
The Camera Obscura is considered to be the first device that made it possible to create an image of reality. With the invention of photography, it finally became possible to fix an image permanently.
Here we focus on creating images using light and present the magic lantern as the most important projection medium of the 18th and 19th centuries. Highlights of this part of the permanent exhibition include a restored, over 200-year-old hand-painted lantern and a digital projection of historic lantern slides. Become a projectionist yourself!
This section focuses on the last few years before the advent of film and introduces you to the various inventors such as Etienne-Jules Marey and the Lumière brothers and their experiments in the creation of moving images. The original Cinématographe Lumière is complemented by a replica that allows visitors to understand the sophistication of this first working film projector.
The highlight and conclusion of the first part of the permanent exhibition is a small cinema that presents the inventiveness and visual diversity of early film in two short programs. In addition to well-known classics such as the films of the Lumière brothers, we also show rarities and curiosities from the archives that are rarely shown to the public, including the first film made in Frankfurt am Main.
This section of the exhibition, located on the 2nd floor of the museum, is dedicated to the principles and means of cinematic storytelling, based on the following themes: Image, Sound, Montage and Acting. The core message is that the impact of a movie depends not only on what it shows, but also on how it shows it.
The Film Room
The center of the exhibition of the exhibition on the second floor is the Film Room, a film installation that presents a collage of film clips on four large screens. The installation is a demonstration of the diversity of cinematic means, a sensory experience, and an emotional introduction to the content of the exhibition.
Learn how camera angles and lighting control the narrative, and how film architecture and trick techniques make fictional settings believable. See, for example, the camera for Wolfgang Petersen’s DAS BOOT (DE 1981) and a set design for GONE WITH THE WIND (USA 1939, R: Victor Fleming). Experience different moods in our light studio or wander through fictional worlds in front of the green screen.
We will show you how music can comment on or emotionally charge a film’s action, and how sound can direct the audience’s attention or make a location seem real. In addition to the original tin drum from Volker Schlöndorff’s film of the same name (DE 1979), we will also have a soundtrack from METROPOLIS (DE 1927, Fritz Lang) on display. Experiment with interactive media stations: See for example how the effect of movie scenes changes when accompanied by different music.
This includes an original storyboard for the famous shower scene from PSYCHO (USA 1960, R: Alfred Hitchcock). It illustrates how a story can be told by combining different shots without explicitly showing anything. Get hands-on experience with the essential role of montage in telling a film’s story by changing the order of shots in a scene.
Costume and make-up, as well as facial expressions, gestures, and body language, are all important levels of effect in cinematic storytelling. The extent to which clothing shapes a character can be seen by comparing a costume worn by Romy Schneider in LUDWIG II (IT/FR/DE 1972, directed by Luchino Visconti) with a stunt costume worn in ALIEN (USA/GB 1979, directed by Ridley Scott). Signed star postcards illustrate that an actor’s public perception depends not only on their roles, but also on their image.