Design on rails

Searching for traces: The "Design & Bahn" exhibition at the DB Museum in Nuremberg shows the development of railroad design in Germany.
by Alexander Russ | 10/5/2021

Just about everyone has probably sat in an ICE train at some point, but only very few people know the designer behind it. The DB Museum in Nuremberg now wants to change that, and from October 1, 2021, it will be showing the "Design & Bahn" exhibition, which deals with the history of railroad design in Germany. In 20 episodes, its development will be presented in two vehicle halls on the basis of 270 exhibits over a period of 120 years – starting around 1900, when design issues first attracted greater attention on the railroads. At that time, members of the Werkbund, such as Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, designed the first interiors for passenger cars.

From the 1920s onwards, the speed frenzy of the still young century also had an impact on the design of rail vehicles with a streamlined design language. After the Second World War, it was primarily the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm that became the driving force behind new design developments. Many of its graduates chose the railroads as their field of professional activity, such as the designer Alexander Neumeister, whose sketches and competition model for the ICE T form a central chapter in the exhibition. At the same time, Deutsche Bahn set up a "Design Center", which in 1971 organized the first international congress on railroad design in what is now the DB Museum in Nuremberg.

In 1971, a conference was held, where many vehicles were presented in the model.
A model of the Wuppertal suspension railroad

The exhibition "Design & Bahn" was conceived and realized by curator Dr. Ursula Bartelsheim. Stylepark author Thomas Edelmann participated as co-curator. The show is embedded in an extensive accompanying program with moderated talk and film evenings that provide insights into the work of the designers and creative teams. In addition, there are various workshops in which children and adults can approach the subject of design photographically and three-dimensionally. Parallel to the exhibition, a comprehensive accompanying volume with numerous illustrations and text contributions will be published, offering a scholarly examination of the subject area and providing, among other things, insights into vehicle design and the communication design of the railroad from the past to the future. In addition, Austrian artist Gudrun Geiblinger has redesigned an original BR 101 locomotive with an abstract color concept, which will travel throughout Germany to coincide with the exhibition.

Design & Bahn

From 1 October 2021 till 13 November 2022

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday, holidays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Monday closed

DB Museum Nuremberg
Lessingstrasse 6
90443 Nuremberg

31 March 2022, 7 p.m. - Topic "How women designers improve the usability of trains".
27 April 2022, 7 p.m. - Topic "Future Journey in Urban and Regional Transport".

The journalist and co-curator of the "Design & Bahn" exhibition, Thomas Edelmann, will lead through the two evenings of talks together with museum director Oliver Götze (on 27 April) and with Uta Brandes, author and professor emeritus of gender design from Cologne (on 31 March).
Registration for the on-site visit is required, admission is free. Both events will be livestreamed via the DB Museum website.

Design & Bahn - Die neue Sonderausstellung im DB Museum