... and sometimes also a museum. The German Football Museum is currently being built in Dortmund.
‘True love’ is what Borussia Dortmund fans call their devotion to ‘their’ club, even if the 2014 / 15 season isn’t going to plan. ‘True love’ – is what the passion for football could generally be called. Of course, there are people in the world who don’t care much for the game. But, every weekend, large sections of the population get very involved with the events on the pitch. And not only in the premier leagues. That’s because people remain just as passionate about the game even when it’s being played in lower divisions – they’re still out there on the pitch and in the grounds backing their teams.
King Football rules. Six and a half million people are registered in more than 27,000 clubs in Germany. Many more millions watch the matches on TV; hundreds of thousands stream into the stadiums every weekend; huge parties are organised at public screenings – particularly when the national teams are playing. Just like last year, when ‘we’ in Germany won the world cup for the fourth time.
So it’s time to dedicate a place to football that documents the fascination of this sport and makes it a tangible experience.
“Schäfer sends a pass inside – header, saved – Rahn should take a shot from the back there – he does! – HE SCORES, GOAL, GOAL, GOOOAAAL!”
Every football fan in Germany has heard these words. And that overexcited commentary by former radio reporter Herbert Zimmermann sends shivers up their spine every time they hear it. To this day – more than 50 years after Germany won its first world cup during the so-called ‘Miracle of Bern’ – goose bumps. Football is emotion. And so much more. A museum for German football must be able to handle the highly complex task of taking a huge bandwidth of considerations into account. The German Football Museum’s mission statements says:
“It [the museum] illustrates the many sporting, political, cultural, social and economic aspects, the meanings and messages that football conveys – but also the fascination, emotion, excitement and entertainment that it is inseparably associated with.”
Whether this balancing act will succeed remains to be seen. Because, at the time this magazine went to press, the football museum was still only a shell. But still: the Katherm QK trench heating systems had already been installed. The opening is planned for summer 2015. When the museum opens its doors, a process that started with the 2006 World Cup in Germany will have been brought to its conclusion.
After years of ‘knock-about soccer’ (that includes, among other things, the embarrassing elimination in the preliminary round of the European Championship 2000 under Erich Ribbeck), the national team under coach Jürgen Klinsmann started to play a refreshing and above all successful style of attacking football. The world cup was also the occasion for exuberant street parties that were celebrated in the best of summer weathers over a period four weeks. The world was amazed at so much Teutonic openness and joie de vivre. The ‘summer fairy tale’ was born. And, with it, the desire to create a space to remember this event by. As well as many more memorable football moments. So the German Football Association decided to build a museum.
Munich or Dortmund – the main thing was that it was in Northrhine-Westphalia (to loosely quote Andy Möller)
Invitations for cities to bid to give the museum a home were issued in 2007. Of the 14 cities that applied, the German Football Association favoured those from Northrhine-Westphalia: Gelsenkirchen, Cologne, Oberhausen and Dortmund. Not only because that federal state is by far the most densely populated but also because of the passionate fans from Bochum to Düsseldorf, from Schalke to Cologne. A museum in Northrhine-Westphalia would create a temple to celebrate football right at the heart of German fan culture. The decision was made in April 2008: Dortmund won the vote that took place during the German FA’s extraordinary meeting in Düsseldorf. An essential argument for Dortmund was certainly the exposed location that the city had earmarked for the museum: perfectly accessible right opposite Dortmund’s main railway station, the football museum fills a gap in the cityscape and completes the art and culture mile that sets this city on the banks of the River Ruhr apart. The famous ‘Dortmunder U’, the Harenberg City-Center, the Stadt- und Landesbibliothek (City and State Library), the RWE Tower, the Museum für Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte (Museum of Art and Cultural History), the Konzerthaus Dortmund (Dortmund Concert Hall) – all these cultural institutions are strung together along a one-kilometre stretch of the city. And the Football Museum has been set right at the heart of it. The Westenhellweg, the busiest shopping street in Germany, is also just a few metres to the south. A visitor-oriented museum couldn’t be integrated into a cityscape any more prominently.
The ball was now in the architects’ court. A competition was announced. Manuel Neukirchner, Spokesperson for the DFB Football Museum Foundation, said: ‘We want an ecologically and commercially sustainable and efficient building that won’t be a burden on natural resources and that will keep the building’s running costs low.” The fact that Kampmann trench heating systems are to be used in the building suits that kind of concept, of course. The design by the architects from the Düsseldorf-based firm of HPP (Hentrich-Petschnigg & Partner) was chosen from the 23 submitted entries.
Transparency – a term that’s frequently used for modern buildings in an age when façades are fully glazed. Transparency in the case of the German Football Museum is not just from the outside in, it’s also a concept that’s being lived. The central location in Dortmund’s city centre means that thousands of people pass by the building every day. The museum’s huge glass foyer invites them all to drop in. The ground floor boasts a large public area with a bar and restaurant, multifunctional arena and space for temporary exhibitions. A 24-metre wide and 2.5-metre high LED wall on the outside front of the museum entertains and informs visitors and passers-by on the museum’s forecourt. The building’s external skin that isn’t fronted by glass has been realised as a perforated metal façade on to which it’s possible to project a variety of football-related topics while offering tasters of what visitors may discover inside the museum: a multimedia experience.
“Concepts are nonsense” (Erich Ribbeck)
The concept for the museum presentation is based on the motto: ‘We are football’. This motto unites millions of active amateurs who week after week populate the football pitches of the world; hosts of volunteers without whom none of it would be possible; the premier leagues’ professionals, particularly those of the Bundesliga, one of the strongest leagues in the world, and, of course, the men’s and women’s national teams, with both German teams being multiple winners of European and world titles.
Football’s just a game. You’d think. But the culture that has developed around the popular sport has an effect on the entire country; socially, economically, culturally. Nineteen sports historians and scientists researched 134 different topics related to German football and gathered vast amounts of material for the presentation. But as well-founded and carefully developed the subjects are, one central concern for the organisers was also to entertain and transport the emotions that football brings with it into the museum. The presentation was divided into five sections to this end: ‘Vor dem Spiel’ (‘Before the game’) stokes the emotions. The ‘1. Halbzeit’ (‘First Half’) shines a light on the world of national teams and professionals. ‘Halbzeitpause’ (‘Half Time’) is dedicated to training and tactics, while the ‘2. Halbzeit’ (‘Second Half’) is about club football. The whole wealth of facets is taken up once again in summary in ‘Nach dem Spiel’ (‘After The Game’). All this with state-of-the-art exhibition technology and emotional staging.
There will, of course, still be classic showcase pieces: what fan of German football doesn’t want to see the original ball used during the finals in Bern? Or the World Cup that Joachim Löw’s boys brought back from Rio de Janeiro last summer? A total of 1,600 exhibits has been collected. The most prominent latest addition: Mario Götze’s left shoe, with which he scored the winning goal in the final against Argentina. At the ‘Ein Herz für Kinder’ (‘A Heart for Children’) TV fund-raiser on 6 December 2014, an anonymous donor paid € 2 million for the yellow shoe. Respect! Also for the fact that the noble philanthropist loaned the shoe to the football museum.
It’s still going to take a while before we’ll be able to admire the fine leather that protected Mario Götze’s golden foot during the final in Rio. Until then, we can revel in happy memories:
“Schürrle ... has turned up! – hurry, HURRY, HE’S HURRYING! MARIO GÖTZEEE!“
The museum has now opened in the meantime and it’s definitely worth a visit! More information at: www.fussballmuseum.de/en
Pictures: Exhibition pictures by DFM/Roesner; Building picture by DFM Hannappel; Location map by Stadt Dortmund