Ruhr Museum

Top choice in The Ruhrgebiet

The former coal-wash plant at the Unesco-listed Zeche Zollverein provides a suitably atmospheric setting for accessible and engaging exhibits on the history, nature and culture of the Ruhr Region. Just as the coal was transported on conveyor belts, a long escalator whisks you up to the foyer from where you descend into the dark bowels of the building.

The exhibition spreads across three floors and starts in the present to provide a window into modern daily life in the Ruhr area. The next floor jumps back in time to look at the region's pre-industrial roots before examining, in often fascinating detail, how the once-agricultural region morphed into the largest coal and steel production area in Europe. With its raw stone walls, steep steel stairs, shiny aluminium ducts and industrial machinery, the space itself has all the drama and mystique of a movie set (Blade Runner comes to mind).

Tickets also include access to the Panorama Roof, which lets you appreciate the vastness of the colliery grounds.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby The Ruhrgebiet attractions

1. Zeche Zollverein

0.09 MILES

A key site along the Ruhr area's Industrial Heritage Trail, the former Zollverein coal mine was a marvel of efficiency while in operation from 1932 until…

2. Red Dot Design Museum

0.17 MILES

Part of the Zeche Zollverein colliery-turned-cultural centre, this museum showcases the best in contemporary design in the former stoker's hall,…

3. Alte Synagoge

2.33 MILES

The grand Alte Synagoge served as the hub of Essen's Jewish community between 1913 and 1938 and miraculously survived WWII largely intact. A memorial site…

4. Dom Essen


Essen’s medieval Dom is an island of quiet engulfed by the commercialism of pedestrianised Kettwiger Strasse, the main shopping strip. It has a priceless…

5. Museum Folkwang

3.38 MILES

A grand dame among Germany’s art repositories, the Museum Folkwang has sparkling digs designed by top British architect David Chipperfield. Galleries…

6. Tetraeder

4.56 MILES

The Tetraeder is one of the most striking stops on the Ruhr Valley's Industrial Heritage Trail. The airy 60m-high installation by Wolfgang Christ is a…

7. Eisenbahnmuseum Bochum

5.16 MILES

Fans of historical trains have plenty to admire at this vast museum, which displays around 120 steam locomotives (many puffing away), coaches and wagons…

8. Josef Albers Museum


Bottrop-born Josef Albers (1888–1976) was a painter of abstract works that combine bold use of colour with geometric forms. A member of the Bauhaus school…