How it All Began-- Of Galaxies, Quarks, and Collisions: A Trip to the Beginnings of the Universe

Photo: Universität Hamburg The multimedia exhibition provides a compelling view Photo: Universität Hamburg The multimedia exhibition provides a compelling view of the latest scientific findings in particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology.
-Where do we come from and where are we going?- -Does the Universe have a beginning and end?- The multimedia special exhibition, How It All Began at the Museum of Work gives visitors insight into the Big Bang and the endlessness of outer space (23 October 2022 to 10 April 2023).

The exhibition involves unique cooperation between Universität Hamburg, with its Quantum Universe cluster of excellence, DESY, and the Museum of Work. It makes top research in Hamburg palpable for the general public and offers an extensive program for children and adolescents.

The journey to the Universe goes back over 13 billion years. The exhibition gives amazing insight into the latest scientific findings in particle physics, astro-particle physics, and cosmology and offers interactive opportunities. A spark chamber reveals the ubiquitous radiation that arises when high-energy particles from deep space collide at the limits of our atmosphere. And in the Big Bang installation, visitors can discover the early Universe, navigate through the elementary particle stage, or try the dark matter simulation to see the effects of changing amounts of dark matter in our solar system.

Rita Müller, museum director: -The Museum of Work has focused in the last few years on specially relevant topics, from the increasing significance of artificial intelligence and the role of Hamburg’s businesses in colonialism to the way we deal with social conflicts. These exhibitions look primarily at more recent history and the present. With the exhibition How It All Began, the museum is now inviting everyone to some time travel to the origins of our Universe and presenting the latest findings in physics and of our researchers in a tangible way. I am delighted that this unusual exhibition can be seen in the Museum of Work and thank everyone from the scientific institutions involved for such excellent collaboration.-

Hauke Heekeren, president of Universität Hamburg: -Who would not like to know more about the origins of our Universe? Scientists and the public alike are interested. Thus, as a university, it is one of our elementary responsibilities to open our doors to the public and, for example, with exhibitions and cooperation like this to share our knowledge outside of our own circles. I am very happy about this special project from our Quantum Universe cluster of excellence, DESY, and the Museum of Work, with which Universität Hamburg is also realizing the goals of the Excellence Strategy of the Federal and State Governments.-

Beate Heinemann, DESY director for the particle physics area: -The Universe is endlessly fascinating and inspires us researchers to discover its many secrets. Where do we come from, where are we going: this research influences our culture and our thinking. With the exhibition How It All Began, we take the public on a journey through the Universe and let it share in our research and our fascination for the Universe.-

Dr. Nina Lemmens, chair of the program board, Joachim Herz Stiftung: -What is our Universe made of? Does it have a beginning and end? These questions are especially interesting to young people. I am very happy that the Joachim Herz foundation could contribute funding to the success of this exciting exhibition. There are also guided tours for secondary school groups and suitable digital classrooom materials that can be used to prepare and review the visit. The digitalized exhibition material can also be used outside of Hamburg or, after the exhibition ends, in the classroom. All of this imparts central findings from particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology to young people in compelling ways."

Anyone who wants to gain an understanding of the end of the Universe at the end of the exhibition tour can enter the walk-through installation and choose a scenario: the Big Crunch, the Big Rip, or the Big Freeze. Visitors can also let off some steam with a round of proton soccer or test their strength by separating quarks from atoms.

The exhibition now also includes works by 5 Hamburg artists who use their art to explore questions about the endlessness of space, research on the Big Bang, and our ideas about it to make them tangible. And there is an extensive program for children and adolescents.

The exhibition was originally developed and exhibited in 2016/17 by the Austrian Academy of Sciences Institute for High Energy Physics (HEPHY) in Vienna and the National History Museum in Vienna. The exhibition design has been adopted by Universität Hamburg through the Cluster of Excellence Quantum Universe in collaboration with DESY, with the addition of some of the newest scientific knowledge and insights into research in Hamburg.

Patrons of the exhibition are the Joachim Herz Stiftung and the Ministry of Science, Research, and Equalities.