Ansicht auf die Zeche, © M. Holtappels-LWL

Zollern Col­li­ery in Dortmund

Take a look be­hind the façade of this palace of work

Take a look be­hind the façade of this mag­ni­fi­cent build­ing: the palace of the work was once a coal mine where gruelling work was done. The LWL Mu­seum tells ex­cit­ing stor­ies about life at that time.

Had things gone according to plan in the 1960s when the Zollern Colliery had just been shut down, a motorway would now cut through the site of this extraordinary industrial monument, ensuring its demise. Fortunately, at that time a number of citizens dedicated to the preservation of this aesthetic steel and glass building came together, thus marking the beginning the care and preservation of the Ruhr Area’s industrial monuments.

And the Zollern Colliery was certainly worth the effort: one would hardly guess that behind the magnificent brick façades and Art Nouveau gate lay a colliery. This was part of the building concept for the colliery in west Dortmund, which was designed to be a showpiece. However, the “Schloss der Arbeit” (“Palace of Work”) only resembles an aristocratic mansion from the outside. Coal was mined behind these impressive gates from 1898 onwards.

Nevertheless, the exhibitions, which are located in what is now the LWL Museum on the site of the former colliery, are devoted not only to the splendour and representational culture of the coal mines, but also above all inform visitors about the work processes that went on behind the beautiful façade. In the various exhibition spaces, such as the lamp room or pithead baths, visitors learn a great deal about the former working conditions, which the museum vividly illustrates by telling the life stories of various men and women. The museum does not fabricate any sense of romance about industrial heritage, but realistically explains how hard life could truly be for mine workers and their families at that time, as well as the dangers resulting from their work.

Zollern Colliery Museum considers itself a museum of the social and cultural history of Ruhr mining and puts on special exhibitions on a regular basis. It is part of the European Route of Industrial Heritage and should therefore count amongst the most important places of interest for industrial heritage for history buffs. The Zollern Colliery has much to offer children as well: apprentice miner Franz leads younger guests on a child-friendly circuit through the museum. In the underground activity room children can experience life in the mines with all their senses, whilst the outdoor area provides an ideal playground for little ones to climb and slide down the play tower.

Opening hours:

Tuesday - Sunday and public holidays: 10 am - 6 pm

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Images and videos

Be inspired: images of your NRW

Sicht auf die Zeche Zollern, © Dirk Walther
Ansicht auf die Zeche, © M. Holtappels-LWL
Luftaufnahme, © S. Cintio-LWL
Das prunkvolle Jugendstilportal der Maschinenhalle auf Zeche Zollern in Dortmund, © M. Holtappels-LWL

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