The story of DASA

How the exhibition became what it is today...

  • 1883 an exhibition from the very start

On the 12th May 1883 Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm gave the starting signal for an exhibition on occupational safety in Berlin, when he opened the "General German Exhibition in the Area of Hygiene and Life-Saving Systems". 25 pavilions dealt with themes like caring for the poor, urban hygiene and wastewater disposal. A whole section was dedicated to safety at work. It was a roaring success. 870,000 visitors saw the show in the space of five months.


  • 1886 Precursor to the Berlin Hygiene Museum

The success of the "General German Exhibition in the Area of Hygiene and Life-Saving Systems" led to the foundation of the Berlin Hygiene Museum. At the centre of affairs was accident prevention like, for example, protecting people against steam boiler explosions. Other themes included protection from dust or poisonous gases. Health protection was prominently dealt with in the form of general working hygiene. 


  • 1889 Accident prevention draws the crowds

An exhibition on the accident risks and prevention was a huge draw in summer 1889. More than one million visitors, including 300.000 workers, visited the "German General Exhibition of Accident Prevention".


  • 1903 The first permanent safety-at-work exhibition

For the first time ever there is a fixed site in which people who wish to protect workers can campaign for safety and health. On the 18th of June 1903 the "Permanent Exhibition of Workers Welfare" opened its doors to the general public in Berlin. Four years previously all the parties in the Reichstag had unanimously agreed to provide a budget of one half million Reich marks to finance a permanent exhibition covering 2500 square metres. The exhibition was based on objects shown in previous Berlin presentations. Even then "Life and Movement" was one of the themes. Machines were shown in action wherever possible.


  • 1913 Multimedia a century ago

Over 3600 exhibits, courses, lectures and a reading room: The "Permanent Exhibition of Workers Welfare" is a successful showroom for occupational safety. As early as 1916 films were used to mediate lively information.


  • 1927 The German Museum of Occupational Safety

Modernised spaces, new sections – the "Permanent Exhibition of Workers Welfare" becomes the "German Museum of Work Protection".


  • 1939 Dark times

In a time of enforced conformity the German Museum of Work Protection is degraded to the "Reich Agency for Work Protection". Two women members of staff who worked with the "Red Band" resistance group were executed in 1942 and 1943 respectively. In 1943 the Museum was damaged in an air raid. After this some of the museum's stock was sent by lorry to Soest.


  • 1949 Uncertain future

The "Central Institute for Occupational Work Safety " begins its work in Soest on 1st April 1949. Back in Berlin 4000 square metres of exhibition space in the old museum lies in rubble.


  • 1951 A fresh start

The Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) sets up the headquarters of the "Federal Institute for Occupational Safety" in Koblenz. There are very modest hopes that it can provide an effective source of information on occupational safety. The work begins with a range of slides and small-scale touring exhibitions. 


  • 1967 A lot of new things in East Germany

A permanent exhibition entitled "Occupational Safety and Hygiene" is set up in the Dresden Hygiene Museum by the Central Institute for Occupational Safety under the aegis of the GDR government. It remains there until 1991 and enjoys a high status in propagating information about occupational safety in the GDR.


  • 1980 The starting signal for DASA

On the 10th September 1980 the Federal Minister for Labour and Social Order issues a decree announcing the creation of a permanent exhibition on safety at work. "The occupational safety exhibition is intended to inform the general public about the world of work, its status in society and its humane implementation, not forgetting safety at home, at leisure and in schools". The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Accident Research in Dortmund is given the job of implementing the project.


  • 1988 From paper to the real thing

Dr. Gerhard Kilger and a small staff begin work on planning, conceiving and implementing the "German Exhibition of Occupational Safety and Health“ (DASA).


  • 1993 partial opening of DASA

DASA opens its doors to the general public with sections entitled "Following the Rhythm of the Machines“, “The Race for the Latest Headlines“ and “At the Screen”. Further exhibition sections are opened one by one.


  • 1996 Multi award-winner!

DASA is presented with the Luigi Micheletti Award as Europe's best new Museum of Technology and Industry, the second prize in the European Museum of the Year Award for outstanding design, and the Photokina special prize for innovative and multimedia communication.


  • 2000 A new millennium for the future of work

The Federal Minister of Labour, Walter Riester, opens the completed exhibition in DASA. Now there are 12 exhibition units covering a total of 13,000 square metres. In addition DASA is registered as a global project at EXPO 2000. From now on around 108.000 visitors a year can learn that safety at work is far more than wearing a helmet or the right shoes.
A comprehensive programme of temporary exhibitions and events is put in place. Up to now more than 60 temporary exhibitions have taken place. The year 2000 saw the first edition of the scenography colloquium. 12 more are to follow. 


  • 2005 Jugend forscht!

“Jugend forscht” es gibt in der Tat keine englische Übersetzung, siehe www.jugend-forscht.de


  • 2010 Hosting the world

DASA plays host to 800 guests from 40 nations at the “Ecsite” Annual Conference, a global network of science centres and museums of technology.


  • 2011 A murderous record

The "Murder in the Museum" exhibition is visited by 60.000 guests, a new record for a temporary exhibition.


  • 2012 Three million

DASA welcomes its 3,000,000th guest.


  • March/April 2013 A new head

DASA gets a new director. Gregor Isenbort takes over the helm.