Chocolate Museum Cologne

Since opening in 1993, the Chocolate Museum Cologne has been the most-visited museum in the city and one of the 10 most-visited museums in Germany. Should we change anything at all? The museum team says “yes please.”

The task

27 years after opening, we are proud to redesign the heart of the Cologne Chocolate Museum. The Little Chocolate Factory is a central visitor experience, including historic machines, live production of mini chocolate bars and the legendary chocolate fountain. It is located in the glass bow of the ship-like museum building on the banks of the river Rhine. Around 650,000 people visit the museum each year, and the redesign improves flow, makes information more accessible and creates a more intense experience.

The idea

The redesign of the Little Chocolate Factory believes in “more”. More orientation, more knowledge transfer, more experiences for the senses and more chocolate. The factory becomes a walk-in information graphic. The visitor is surrounded with sensual and cognitive installations. Discovering how chocolate is made becomes more tangible and accessible.

The reality

The experience consists of three areas. The first is the ingredients storeroom. The visitor learns what chocolate is made from whilst surrounded by factory-sized ingredient containers, an industrial shelf and oversized measuring cylinders. The creative idea is to directly transport the visitor into the world of industrial chocolate production.

The large installations immediately convey the most important facts about ingredients and basic recipes. A closer look reveals interesting background knowledge and bizarre facts about the rules and intricacies of chocolate production.

Following the storeroom, the visitors enter the production line to learn how chocolate is made. The machines become part of a walk-in information graphic. Clear guidance, strong visual information and wordless media stations guide visitors through the entire production process from bean to bar.

Clear shapes and colours create a content-rich path to follow the production process and bring it to life.

The visitors experience the exhibition with all their senses. With their eyes, they gain insight of hidden processes in the machines via wordless, step-by-step animations. Their noses take in the irreplaceable scent of molten chocolate and guess additional ingredients. Meanwhile, hands are kept busy feeling the science of production temperatures, getting closer to the process. Finally, mouth watering, visitors can explore the taste of freshly made chocolate. Technology meets the senses as a robot offers visitors chocolate fresh from the conveyor belt.

The symbol of the Chocolate Museum is the golden, three-metre high, chocolate fountain. It now shines even brighter on its new golden stage. Chocolate can rarely be tasted so flowing and so fresh. With the city skyline stretching behind it, the chocolate fountain is also a popular photo point.

The historical machines dating back to 1883 close the production line experience. For the redesign we gathered them in one place to form a timeline of decisive inventions in the industrialisation of chocolate production.

The final area of the factory experience is the Chocolate Studios. Here, visitors get closer to truffle and hollow figurine production, and can order a personalised bar.  We also stage historical chocolate moulds in a new exhibition with custom-made, statement display cases.

From this upper deck, a new photo point gives visitors the chance to become captain of the chocolate steamer, sailing into the magnificent view of the Rhine and old town with its cathedral and bridges. Naturally with a a chocolate twist. The co-captian is the Museum’s largest figure – Santa Claus “Stanley”.

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