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19.02.2016 - Ausgabe: 1/2016

Water playground as a marketing tool


The crowd cheered enthusiastically when Kaiser Wilhelm II officially opened the first Henrichenburg boat lift on 11 August 1899. And, more than 100 years later, visitors still flock to see this remarkable feat of engineering installed on the Dortmund-Ems canal. Sadly, the boat lift itself has now been inoperative for the past 40 years but the nearby museum brings the lift and the people who used to earn their livelihoods on the canal back to life. The German TV broadcaster WDR asked its viewers to choose their favourite industrial heritage site in the North Rhine-Westphalia region ‒ the Henrichenburg boat lift came in in first place. This was undoubtedly because this is a venue that can be actively enjoyed by the whole family.

This new addition to its Waltrop industrial museum was inaugurated by the Westphalia-Lippe regional organisation (LWL) on 1 April 2012. "The real jewel in the crown for me is the artificial waterway that incorporates a model of the boat lift," says Dr. Arnulf Siebeneicker, LWL's Museum Director, with a grin. The water playground was ceremonially opened in the presence of LWL's Cultural Director, Dr. Barbara Rüschoff-Thale and the Mayor of Waltrop, Anne Heck-Guthe.

"What has this play feature to offer? Well, there is a play tower that has been designed so that it can be together explored and used for play by children both with and without disabilities. The principle underlying the operation of the boat lift can also be discovered through play and the model allows children to actually practice what they have learned: The highlight is an artificial watercourse with a model of the boat lift that is operated by a crank and that children can use to lift and lower tiny barges.

And there are various different options that can be used to cross the watercourse that has been constructed to simulate a small-scale canal. The more adventurous will enjoy using the Tarzan swingers. The playground provides the opportunity to learn about the power of water and its uses as a means of transport while playing," explains Mario Hampel, CEO of the Kinderland Emsland Spielgeräte playground equipment manufacturer


The Museum Director on the new water playground

"In addition to the engineering marvel that was opened in 1899 and was used to help barges overcome a 14-metre change in elevation on the Dortmund-Ems canal, the Henrichenburg boat lift industrial museum has extensive outdoor spaces at its disposal. These include the upper and lower locks of the lift, in which the collection of historical inland vessels of the museum are moored.

The water playground is located by the 400-metre upper lock of the boat lift. We had two primary objectives when planning the attraction. Children were to be able to frolic freely in and around the water and also have the opportunity to understand the functioning of this technical monument while having fun at the same time. There can be no doubt that we have successful achieved our goals. The children can draw tiny barges along the miniature canal into a model of the lift and then operate the crank handle to move them up or down. There is an Archimedes' screw that they can use to ensure that the upper lock of the model is always kept full of water.

The water playground has significantly added to the appeal of the museum; the official opening on 1 April 2012 was attended by 3000 visitors. In fine summer weather, this feature regularly becomes a paddling pool with sunbathing area. As there are so few interesting play attractions in the vicinity, many local residents have acquired an annual family card that provides them with year-round access to the museum grounds and the water playground for €19.70. The water playground is also ideally located right next to the old port building that houses the exhibits of the museum. Families can thus combine a visit to the museum with time on the playground," concludes Dr. Arnulf Siebeneicker of the LWL Henrichenburg boat lift museum.

Does the playground also function as a substitute open air swimming pool? "We have had visitors who first took time out sunbathing there and then happily toured the museum in the near altogether," says Vera Lengersdorf of LWL's industrial museum. Technological insight combined with fun and games, active and passive learning ‒ the marketing management of the LWL Henrichenburg boat lift industrial museum has clearly invested wisely in the playground.


Image: LWL-Industriemuseum Schiffshebewerk Henrichenburg


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