Discoveries: Exhibitions on Mainau Island

Mainau Island, Photo/Credit: Insel Mainau/Peter Allgaier

Exhibition Series on Sustainability Topics

The ‘Discoveries’ exhibition series on sustainability topics were realized over the period of three years on Mainau Island, contributing significantly to the Years of Science 2009–2011. The three exhibitions on the topics of water, energy and health had been made possible through the generous support of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Water – Introduction by Countess Bettina Bernadotte from 2009

As anyone who visits Mainau Island immediately realises, it is a very special island indeed. An oasis of natural beauty and relaxation, where visitors can develop an awareness of the natural rhythm of nature. In large measure, Mainau owes that to Count Lennart Bernadotte. Early on, he felt a special responsibility to protect and preserve the environment. He put his philosophy to practice on Mainau Island, creating the lasting legacy visitors see today: a true nature experience, popular holiday destination, and a place of international encounters.

But my father realised another special project beyond the island by serving as co-initiator of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. Since 1951, these meetings have brought together young researchers and students with Nobel Laureates. The meetings provide a personal, casual forum for exchange that is unique in the field. Throughout his life, Count Lennart Bernadotte considered dialogue between generations within the field of science to be extremely important. Yet dialogue between science and society was equally important to him. He saw it as an opportunity to overcome boundaries and, in the process, to advance the cause of humankind.

In this year of commemoration for my father, I am thus particularly pleased that the Foundation and the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at Lake Constance are hosting the exhibition, entitled ‘Discoveries’, on the garden island. The exhibition impressively combines the experience of science and sustainability and is part of the German Science Year 2009, “Research Expedition: Germany”. A wide variety of diverse exhibits, many of them interactive, make research a tangible experience. Visitors are encouraged to pose their questions to the realm of science and learn new ways of taking care of natural resources.

Research takes time. Our exhibition, too, is designed to span three years. Each successive summer, the exhibition will devote itself to a different area of sustainability research. The focus this year is upon an element that has a very special relationship to Mainau Island in Lake Constance: water.

Working together with partners in science, the business community and politics, the Council and Foundation have succeeded in compiling a wide diversity of exhibits devoted to the various facets of the topic of water. The exhibits underscore the importance of water for humanity and highlight the contributions of research in this area. Visitors to Mainau Island also have interesting discoveries to look forward to during the coming two years: the focus next summer will be upon ‘Energy’, and in 2011, the discoveries will revolve around the ‘System Earth’.

Topic Water

Exhibit which shows how tsunami waves develop.

Energy – Introduction by Countess Bettina Bernadotte from 2010

Energy is a fundamental issue for people and mankind. It is of great importance in our everyday lives and we appear to take its existence for granted. What will the energy of the future be like and what consequences will it have for our lives? With its many interactive exhibits and experiments, the ‘Discoveries 2010: Energy’ exhibition demonstrates how science and research are working for a safe, affordable and, above all else, ecological energy supply for the coming decades. It makes fascinating topics tangible and encourages visitors to ask questions and also find out about new ways of handling energy sources with care. As you walk around the 18 futuristic-looking pavilions, you will gain insights into projects of the future and the history of energy research.

As an integral part of this Year of Science, the ‘Discoveries’ series of exhibitions this summer will be taking place for the second time. To mark the beginning last year, it was all about the topic of water. We are delighted that with this cycle of events, research on sustainability is being brought more to life and we are honouring the memory of Count Lennart Bernadotte, who would have been 100 years old last year. As the ‘spiritus rector’ of the annual Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings – which are taking place this year for the 60th time – he promoted dialogue between different generations of researchers. The relevance of science for society was equally important to Count Lennart throughout his entire life. With this ‘Discoveries’ series of exhibitions, the Foundation Lindau Nobelprizewinners Meetings at Lake Constance, together with the Isle of Mainau, is therefore undertaking a project whose aim it is to raise awareness among visitors to Mainau of scientific issues and challenges.

With a whole series of events, ‘Science Year 2010 – The Future of Energy’ shows the creativity with which scientists are working on a sustainable energy supply. The ‘Discoveries’ series of exhibitions is largely being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and for this commitment for the benefit of dialogue between the general public and the science community, the Foundation and Council for the Nobel Laureate Meetings would like to thank in particular Federal Minister, Prof. Dr. Annette Schavan, who is the patron of this project.

Curiosity is a most potent driving force. We cordially invite you to come to the Isle of Mainau and discover the future of energy. We hope that you will make lots of new discoveries as you put the exhibits to the test and be amazed by their fascinating insights, and we would be especially delighted to welcome you to the ‘Discoveries’ exhibition on the Isle of Mainau again next year when the topic will be ‘Health Research’.

Exhibition Energy

Interactive Exhibit showing how much enery is required by different light bulbs.

Health – Excerpt from the Introduction by Countess Bettina Bernadotte and Wolfgang Schürer from 2011

Health is a valuable asset, of vital importance to every person and to humankind as a whole. It means much more than the mere absence of disease and infirmity. Other important aspects include a sense of wellbeing and unrestricted actionability. The exhibition ‘Discoveries 2011: Health’ focuses on the contributions of science and research. Entertaining, visually engaging and interactive, it presents today’s research for tomorrow’s health. In 18 pavilions, the exhibitors show technologies and procedures for improved treatment, present the current status of research on widespread diseases such as diabetes and cancer, and reveal strategies for disease prevention and healthy living. A specially designed ‘Info Tour’ reveals ancient knowledge about herbal remedies, which is still applied today in modern medicine, while an art installation is devoted to the “orphans” of medical research: rare diseases. Hands-on exhibits and hensible background information ensure that all topics are easily accessible for both children and adults.

The ‘Discoveries’ exhibition series on sustainability topics has been made possible through the generous support of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and is an important part of the Years of Science 2009 to 2011. In the ‘Year of Science 2011— Research for our Health’, a whole range of events draw attention to the conscientiousness and focus of scientists in their quest to maintain and restore health. ‘Discoveries 2011: Health’ helps initiate a necessary social dialogue on the goals, challenges and fields of action of modern health research.


Opening of the exhibition with children, Countess Bettina Bernadotte, State Secretary Helge Braun and Prof. Wolfgang Schürer