You find yourself in Dortmund and what’s one of the first things to do? Why, visit the Deutsches Fussball Museum of course! Now, something worth noting is that I am not a museum person. Like, museums are typically last on my list of things to do when I’m traveling. With that being said, I am an ardent lover of German football so I had to make the obligatory trip especially considering it was right in the center of the city.
Have you ever checked out what the building looks like? If not, it’s certainly worth a Google. The design of the building itself is visually striking, so even if museums aren’t your thing, the structure itself is impressive. The museum only opened its doors back in October 2015 and professes to be vivid, emotional, and interactive. I am here to tell you that there is absolute truth behind each of those claims.
The layout of the museum exhibits takes you on a journey...much like a well-plotted film or book. You start with the history of fußball and the DFB and it builds up, leading you to the present day and ends in the Hall of Fame. As a recent-ish fan of German football, I really don’t know too much about its origins so, it was tempting to want to rush straight to the end to get to all the 2014 World Cup content. But! I was gripped from the beginning because after ascending an escalator with vibrant murals depicting fans, players, and moments through the years, you walk through a players tunnel to then be confronted with, what I came to learn was, the Heroes of Bern: the 1954 World Cup winning squad and their coach (Sepp!) including the signed ball used in the final!
It was official...the museum had me in its thrall.
From here, you move into the timeline of the DFB and the performance of die Mannschaft at various tournaments. About 95% of the readable content had English translations so while I couldn’t necessarily read the personal letters and journals, the posted placards conveyed the meaning. The multitude of artifacts on display was astounding. At no point did I ever feel that all I was doing was reading (reading, ew, blech ;)). I really couldn’t believe how many original pieces were part of the exhibits.
The timeline covered was thorough including the darkest periods of German football during the Holocaust, post-war, and the years of East and West Germany. This was the most emotional part of the museum experience for me, as the exhibits provided first-hand accounts of the way the government used the sport and teams for their own agenda and even had players spying on other players!
The museum doesn’t let you dwell in the somberness of that content for too long as you are soon transported into the 2006-2014 era. I’m pretty sure I exclaimed “holy shit!” multiple times...out loud. From the bar where the team gathered in Campo Bahia to Hansi Flick’s notes to Klose, Neuer, and Götze kits, all of which were on display for me to fangirl squeal over. Which I did. Repeatedly. Out loud.
Once you’re able to tear yourself away from this area, you move on to a “3-D” movie with players past and present interacting and talking about the four World Cup victories. The movie was good and all (as soon Lothar Matthäus appeared on screen, I started looking for the exit...) but I was sitting there wondering “where the frick are those trophies??” Fortunately, you walk immediately into the SCHATZKAMMER after vacating the theater, and holy freaking crap. I don’t know that I can really put into words what it was like to see these trophies. Surreal comes to mind. I lingered here for quite a bit, just engaging the shared space with these iconic parts of the German football story.
After leaving the treasury, there are exhibits about the Bundesliga clubs and then the Hall of Fame; a gentle decrescendo prior to exiting the museum floor. Before I knew it, this anti-museum guest had spent close to 5 hours within the walls of the place.
If you ever find yourself in Dortmund, a visit to the Deutsches Fussball Museum is a must. Be sure to allow enough time to immerse yourself in the exhibits and everything the museum halls have to offer. The landscape of German football continues to change and grow and so too will the museum, meticulously preserving its history.