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Director confirmed in office: DSM sails into the future with Prof. Dr. Ruth Schilling


Director confirmed in office: DSM sails into the future with Prof. Dr. Ruth Schilling

It is now official: Prof. Dr. Ruth Schilling will remain Managing Director of the German Maritime Museum (DSM) / Leibniz Institute of Maritime History after successfully leading the museum for almost two years. This was decided unanimously by the Board of Trustees, the museum's supervisory body, at its December meeting. Schilling had previously held this position on an interim basis, as the final appointment to the position was linked to an appointment procedure for a professorship in maritime history at the University of Bremen. Schilling was able to win this.
"Understanding the world from the sea - this is the motto under which the 47-year-old wants to drive forward the further development of the museum. "Whether sea level rise, cargo handling, tourism or geostrategic interests: We live in a time in which the oceans are becoming increasingly important to our lives. Why this is the case and how it came about - we make this clear in our exhibitions, because ships and their history can be used to present all these topics in a concise and broadly effective way."

For Schilling, one thing is clear: "The coming years will be decisive for our museum." The evaluation of the museum as an institute of the Leibniz Association, which takes place at least every seven years, is due in April next year. The commission's vote will be decisive for the museum's continued status as an excellent research institution and thus for its funding by the federal and state governments.

During its tour, the evaluation commission will get its first glimpse of the new permanent exhibition "Ship Worlds - The Ocean and Us", which will open on July 17 next year after a two-year renovation phase in the 2800 square meter extension. It focuses on the importance of the ship for our global world in the 21st century and unfolds this connection using topics such as marine research, modern shipbuilding and the interaction between the environment and shipping. The Berlin agency chezweitz, which has already implemented numerous exhibition projects at internationally renowned museums, is responsible for the scenographic design.

Topics such as passenger shipping, the interrelationship between merchant shipping and warships and navigation, on the other hand, are to be addressed in the main building, the Scharoun Building. This has already been partially renovated, and the further renovation of the building was agreed this year in the coalition agreement between the governing parties in the state of Bremen. Schilling considers this to be a groundbreaking decision: "The more clearly and convincingly the political leaders in Bremen and Bremerhaven show that it is important to them to lead our building into a good future, the greater our chances of a positive result from the Leibniz evaluation."

Another important concern for the DSM is the renovation of the outdoor area. Together with the operating company Alter und Neuer Hafen (BEAN) and the planning office Latz + Partner, the DSM is currently developing plans for a more attractive design of the area. The museum ships are to be given greater prominence and orientation in the area is to be made easier. "The museum harbor is a place with great potential. History, the present, city life and proximity to the sea - the most diverse aspects of this city are united here in one place. Despite all the challenges that still need to be overcome in the development of the site, I couldn't imagine a more suitable location in the city for our museum."

Ruth Schilling has been working at the DSM since 2014. The internationally renowned and interdisciplinary historian was previously head of the two scientific program areas at the DSM. As head curator at the DSM, she was also responsible for major exhibition projects such as the redesign of the Kogge Hall and several successful special exhibitions. From the outset, her position was linked to a professorship in history at the University of Bremen.

Born in Berlin, she has known the DSM since she was a child. Her father comes from Bremerhaven. As a child, she spent many vacation weeks with her grandparents in the seaside town and was fascinated by maritime history from an early age. Experiences that have shaped her to this day: "Ships and other maritime objects are full of exciting stories full of life. Stories of people and the sea that are worth exploring and telling in exhibitions. This is a task that inspires me time and time again."

Votes on the election:

"The DSM researches and tells the story of the relationship between man and the sea using ships. With this focus, it is unique among the eight Leibniz research museums and far beyond. With Prof. Dr. Ruth Schilling, an internationally and interdisciplinary well-connected scientist is now officially taking over the management of the museum. I would like to congratulate her warmly and wish her continued success and a strong tailwind for the further realignment of the museum."
Prof. Dr. Martina Brockmeier, President of the Leibniz Association
"Prof. Dr. Ruth Schilling has been closely associated with the German Maritime Museum for many years. She knows about the charisma of the DSM. She is also aware of the challenges of the coming months. These months are crucial in order to position the DSM well for the future. I am delighted that Ms. Schilling can now make full use of her experience and commitment in this responsible position. I wish her all the best. Our company will continue to actively support her and the DSM in the tasks ahead."
Kathrin Moosdorf, Senator for the Environment, Climate and Science of the State of Bremen and Chair of the DSM Foundation

„The oceans secure our livelihoods. They provide a habitat for countless species, regulate the climate, supply us with food and are an important transportation route. The German Maritime Museum makes all of this tangible: as a place of learning, it conveys knowledge and fascination - not only about shipping, but also about the environmentally friendly use of our seas. After all, the history of our interaction with the oceans can be used to learn how to solve the major ecological crises - the climate crisis, the extinction of species and the pollution crisis. I warmly congratulate Ruth Schilling on her election as Director and wish her and the DSM every success in this important work!"
Sebastian Unger, Federal Government Commissioner for the Marine Environment

"Our oceans are under increasing pressure due to ever greater exploitation. To ensure that their protection and use remain compatible, we need solid knowledge about oceanographic and biological processes in the sea. Research museums that present scientific findings in a generally understandable way play a major role in the transfer of knowledge to society. The DSM is therefore a good and important partner for the DAM in its efforts to promote a more sustainable approach to coasts, seas and the ocean. I wish Prof. Dr. Ruth Schilling a good start as Director and much inspiration, luck and success for this important task!"
Dr. Joachim Harms, Chairman of the Board of the German Marine Research Alliance

"The AWI congratulates DSM Director Prof. Dr. Ruth Schilling on her election. The German Maritime Museum and the Alfred Wegener Institute have already implemented several science communication projects together in recent years - the "360° POLARSTERN" exhibition, for example, or the traveling exhibition "Into the Ice". We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Prof. Ruth Schilling - for example on the new permanent exhibition "Ship Worlds - The Ocean and Us" and promise to continue to bring back exciting stories, images and artifacts from our expeditions."
Prof. Dr. Antje Boetius, Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

"I would like to congratulate Ruth Schilling on the continuation of her successful work and look forward to our continued collaboration. The European Hansemuseum and the German Maritime Museum have more in common than just maritime history. We are also in close contact and cooperate on projects. For example, we developed the special exhibition FROM HERE TO THERE together with other northern German museums. The exhibition will move to Bremerhaven in fall 2024 after being on display in Lübeck."
Dr. Felicia Sternfeld, Managing Director of the European Hansemuseum Lübeck


Thomas Joppig

+49 (0)471 482 07 832

Prof. Dr. Ruth Schilling (left) and Kathrin Moosdorf, Senator for the Environment, Climate and Science of the State of Bremen and Chairwoman of the DSM Foundation, in the research depot.


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Ships: Ships reopen on 18 March 2024

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Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum
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