The ’MS Wissenschaft’ Sets Sail

Floating science center featuring exhibit from Freie Universität can be visited in Berlin from May 15-19

The MS Wissenschaft is a ship that has been converted into a science center with interactive exhibits. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, it travels every summer through Germany with a series of exhibitions based on an overarching theme. To celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of Germany’s Basic Law, this year’s theme is "freedom." Freie Universität is one of the thirty contributors on board, with an exhibition called "The Freedom to Pursue Knowledge." Featuring three audio stations in both German and English, the exhibition gives visitors access to voices from the past: former Freie Universität students, employees, and professors who have shared their stories of why the freedom to pursue knowledge means so much - both then and now. Visitors in Berlin will be able to attend the exhibition daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from May 15-19, 2024. The ship will be moored at Greenwichpromenade by Tegeler See until this Sunday before departing on its tour of Germany. The exhibition is free to attend and recommended for individuals aged twelve years and above. Audio guides are available for the entire exhibition in German and English.

Historical Background of Freie Universität’s Contribution

The exhibition was inspired by Freie Universität Berlin’s founding story. Three years after World War II, the Allies divided Berlin into four sectors. Two conflicting blocks emerged - with the three Allies in the western part of the city and the Soviets in the east. The main university in Berlin at the time was located in the eastern sector and its members were subject to growing political repression. This led to Freie Universität Berlin being founded in 1948 in western Berlin. The students who founded Freie Universität wanted to establish a university where its members were able to study, teach, and research free from political interference.

MS Wissenschaft and "The Freedom to Pursue Knowledge" Exhibition

How free are our decisions really’ What can we learn about freedom from the past’ To what extent do we have artistic freedom’ How will the use of artificial intelligence affect our freedom’ These are just some of the questions that the thirty interactive exhibitions on MS Wissenschaft will be asking this year. Visitors to the floating science center are invited to explore the concept of freedom and investigate for themselves the various aspects of what freedom means. For example, become a neurologist for the day and find out how free we really are when making decisions. Or play a round of pinball to find out how genetic and societal factors impact different areas of life. Those interested in the intersection between freedom of opinion and social media can see how new EU legislation is having an effect on internet hate speech. A driving simulator also allows visitors to try out the different levels of autonomy offered by new driverless systems, while history buffs can test their knowledge in a quiz on the concept of "freedom" and how it has developed from the Middle Ages until today.

The Ship

The MS Wissenschaft is a 102-meter-long cargo ship that was previously used to transport goods across Europe. Since 2002, it has been touring Germany every summer on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research as a floating science center featuring a series of exhibitions based on an overarching theme. The ship is powered by GTL (gas to liquids) fuel, a cleaner-burning alternative to conventional diesel. A photovoltaic system on deck also supplies the exhibitions with electricity generated from the sun.

The Latin words veritas, justitia, and libertas, which frame the seal of Freie Universität Berlin, stand for the values that have defined the academic ethos of Freie Universität since its founding in December 1948.