Founded in 1882, the DB Museum is the oldest railway museum in the world. Its core remit is to preserve, research and communicate German railway history.
The range of exhibitions covers the beginnings of the railway to present day as well as questions about mobility in the future. Around 15,000 exhibits ranging from whistles to signal boxes, a large number of historic original vehicles and the Modellarium, a permanent exhibition of vehicle models, not only illustrate the technical developments but also the impact of the railway on political, social and cultural history.
In addition to railway vehicles and a wide range of objects, the collections include a photo collection, an archive and a special library, the latter of which is open to the public.
First established in 1882 by the Bavarian State Railway in Munich as a museum for Bavarian railway history, it moved in 1899 to the birthplace of the German railway: to Nuremberg. The steam locomotive “Adler” opened the railway era in Germany there with nine passengers on 7 December 1835. From then on, the museum was called the “Königlich Bayerisches Eisenbahnmuseum” (Royal Bavarian Railway Museum).
In 1901 a new department for post services and telegraphy was opened in the museum and the building was renamed the “Königlich Bayerisches Verkehrsmuseum” (Royal Bavarian Transport Museum). Soon the expanded museum needed more space. The ground-breaking ceremony was held at the current location in Nuremberg’s Lessingstraße in 1914. Shortly afterwards, the First World War interrupted the construction work. After the end of the war, the work was continued, the two museum departments were separated and assigned to different authorities. Both museums now expanded their collections to include developments in Germany as a whole. The construction work was completed in 1925 and the museum moved to its current base. It has a total of 9,700 m² of exhibition space: 8,500 m² for the railway and 1,200 m² for postal services.
The reform of the railways and postal services in the mid-1990s brought significant structural changes for the Transport Museum. As part of the “Museumsstiftung Post und Telekommunikation” (Post and Telecommunications Museum Foundation), the transport museum’s postal services department founded in 1902, was renamed the “Museum für Kommunikation” (Museum of Communication).
In 1996, Deutsche Bahn AG took over the transport museum’s railway department as a company museum. It was given the name “DB Museum”. Since then, two independent museums have been located under the old transport museum’s roof. In the early 2000s, the DB Museum opened two external locations in Koblenz and Halle (Saale).
Since 1 April 2013, the DB Museum has been part of the Deutsche Bahn Stiftung gGmbH, which brings together all Deutsche Bahn AG’s charitable activities. The aim of the institution besides the preservation of the railway’s cultural heritage is the non-material and material promotion of society, especially in the areas of education, integration, environment and humanitarian aid.