A LEGO Journey Through Time

August 2, 2013


Last week I visited Hamburg for a short holiday, and it turned in to a bit of a museum marathon, due partly to the fact that there were a lot of thunderstorms which put an end to any plans of exploring the rest of the city. One of the exhibitions I saw I wanted to tell you about right away, as it’s only on until September. It was a 20 minute train ride from the city centre, but totally worth it (and 20 minutes isn’t really that long, when you consider it takes me twice as long to get to work).


“Lego Zeitreise”, or in English “Lego Journey Through Time” is a special exhibition at the Archaeological Museum Hamburg/ Helms-Museum. It includes twelve dioramas showing scenes from significant periods in history: Neanderthals, Babylon, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient China, Vikings, the Middle Ages, the Wild West, the ‘Present’ – represented by a skyline of Hamburg, and the ‘Future’. All created in miniature with thousands of Lego bricks! The models have been created by Lego certified professional René Hoffmeister and his team, especially for the exhibition.




Building the Pyramids


Terracotta Army


The archaeological link comes through the juxtaposed historical artefacts displayed alongside, so you might find a mammoth’s pelvic bone next to the Neanderthal diorama or a tomahawk and tobacco pipe opposite the Wild West. Smaller artefacts, such as Viking brooch or Incan axe, are displayed on mounts made – of course – from Lego bricks!




A nice addition alongside the historical scenes, is the Lego recreation of an archaeological dig depicting the early Medieval ‘Wulfsen horse burial’. The burial of three horses was discovered in the 1970s in the German village of Wulfsen, and is on permanent display at the museum!


Under the motto “Hier auch bauen, nicht nur schauen” (Engl: here you can also build, not just look), visitors are invited to build their own Lego creations, including both regular Lego bricks and a corner with Lego Duplo for the smallest visitors. Selected creations are displayed in the “models of the week” showcase, thus giving visitors a chance to become a part of the exhibition themselves. A really neat idea, I thought.


Other activities include a drawing corner, where you can either colour in one of the Lego figure templates or design your own, and some Medieval dressing up next to the Middle Ages diorama.



One of the most fun factors of the exhibition, was the fact that each of the twelve dioramas has one ‘mistake’ built in to it. You could pick up a rally sheet giving you a visual clue for each one, but not telling you which clue or mistake went with with diorama. As well as the fun factor, also a really clever trick to get visitors looking at the models more closely. So, for example, you might spot a juice carton at a Medieval banquet, a speed limit road sign in Ancient Rome, or a Neanderthal boarding a spaceship of the future. Can you spot the mistake in this scene of the the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?


I guess the exhibition appeals particularly to families – and kids have free entry – but anyone who is a child at heart or simply has a love for Lego will get enjoyment out it. Besides marveling at both the historical artefacts and the attention to detail of the dioramas once you have studied all the scenes to find the mistakes, tried your hand and building something worthy to be featured as ‘model of the week’, and perhaps let out your inner child at the drawing table, you’ll have easily passed by an hour. Lego Zeitreise is on view until 29th September at the Archäologisches Museum Hamburg/ Helms Museum in Hamburg Harburg. Note that the museum has two sites, one for their permanent and one for their special exhibitions. You’re aiming for the latter. Take the S3 or S31 to ‘Harburg Rathaus’, exit in the direction of travel and follow the signs.






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4 Responses to “A LEGO Journey Through Time”

  1. Katie Bowell Says:

    We had an Egyptian Lego exhibit at the Columbi Museum (archaeology) in Freiburg last year. No accompanying artifacts, though, which is a shame because they’re such a great addition.



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