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Ruhr Museum | Glückauf – Film ab! Kino- und Filmgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets

Glückauf – Film ab! Kino- und Filmgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets

Ruhr Museum, 12 metre level
29 June 2024 until 2 March 2025
Opening time

10–18 Uhr



Eintritt 10 €, ermäßigt 7 €,
Kinder / Jugendliche unter 18 Jahren sowie
Schüler:innen / Student:innen unter 25 Jahren Eintritt frei



A major cultural-historical exhibition about cinema and film in the Ruhr region in a spectacular industrial setting: The museum and the Essen Filmkunsttheater will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Glückauf film studio in 2024. For the first time, the complete exhibition will provide an overview of the unique film landscape of the region, which was once characterized by coal and steel. It shows 100 years of moving Ruhr area cinema with legendary feature films and documentaries and invites visitors on a historical journey of discovery through the film and cinema landscape of the Ruhr area with impressive objects.


Film: Zeitlupe GmbH


The occasion

The occasion for the Ruhr Museum's major special exhibition is the birthday of Essen's "Filmstudio Glückauf", which turned one hundred years old on March 1, 2024. This makes it one of the oldest surviving cinemas in the Ruhr region and North Rhine-Westphalia. The Ruhr Museum at the Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site is marking this anniversary with an exhibition on the entire history of cinema and film in the Ruhr region. The Ruhr Museum not only revives the great days of cinema in the 1920s and 1950s, but also shows the changes in cinema culture and the people in front of and behind the cameras. The "Filmstudio Glückauf" was founded in 1924 as a reform cinema and was intended to counteract the feared dangers of the "immoral and, above all, youth-endangering" new medium by showing sophisticated films. The "Filmstudio Glückauf" has maintained this claim for over a hundred years and has been part of Essen's film art theaters since the 1990s. In an unprecedented civic campaign, it was saved from closure and destruction in the 2000s and was able to remain one of the beacons of cinema culture in North Rhine-Westphalia. With a total of six venues, including the famous "Lichtburg" premiere cinema, Essen's art house cinemas form the core of Essen's cinema landscape, and it is thanks to the unprecedented initiative of their owners Hanns-Peter Hüster and Marianne Menze and their team that Essen and the Ruhr region still play an important role on the German cinema map today.


The exhibition

Prof. Heinrich Theodor Grütter, Museum Director of the Ruhr Museum, explains: "We have created a cinematic monument to our home region. For the first time, we are shedding light on the entire cinema and film history of the Ruhr region. And this story is also worthy of a movie." The exhibition "Glückauf - Film ab! Kino und Filmgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets" is a chronological journey through the film landscape of the Ruhr region and its magical performance venue, the cinema. It tells the entire history of cinema and film in the Ruhr region spanning more than a hundred years, from the birth of cinematography at the end of the 19th century, the great cinema buildings of the 1920s, the instrumentalization of film and cinema during the Nazi era and the cinema experience of the 1950s to the transformation of cinema from the 1970s to the present day. At the same time, the exhibition is more than just a history of cinema and film. It presents the entire world of film and cinema in the Ruhr region, from screening technology to film and cinema advertising, especially in the 1950s, to the legendary cinema owners and operators. It shows the region as a location for important films and the associated film equipment as well as the filmmakers who emerged from the Ruhr region or filmed here. It also sheds light on the specifics of film in the Ruhr region, such as documentary film work, the close connection between the coal and steel industry and film, the film avant-garde, film and cinema in an intercultural context, the region's important film festivals and, finally, the scandals in the cinemas that revolved around environmental problems, sex films and the image of the Ruhr region.

Over 900 exhibits from museums, archives, cinemas and the private collections of filmmakers are on display. The exhibits range from posters, autograph cards, scripts and props to spectacular film clips, evidence of documentary film work, film advertising and photographs, as well as a wide variety of film projectors and various media and genres that have enriched and shaped the film landscape. The result is a panorama that shows what an important cultural asset film and cinema were and are in the Ruhr region.

Marianne Menze, Managing Director of Essener Filmkunsttheater: "The exhibition is dedicated to the great passion for film and cinema of the people in the Ruhr region. And it is precisely thanks to this passion that our cinemas exist today and will continue to exist in the future."


The cinema and film history of the Ruhr region

The new entertainment medium of film and its presentation venue, the cinema, were particularly important in the Ruhr region, once the largest industrial conurbation in Europe. Even before the First World War, Essen was home to the "Schauburg", the largest cinema of all with 2,000 seats, and in the 1920s, several cinemas in the Ruhr region, such as the "Lichtburg" in Essen, which opened in 1928, were among the largest cinemas in Germany. But even in the decades that followed, especially in the 1950s, the heyday of cinemas and the heyday of the Ruhr industry during the economic miracle, feature films and cinema played a prominent role in the Ruhr region. At the end of the 1950s, the region had several hundred cinemas before the slow death of cinema began and it began to retreat in competition with television and later other media and is now just one of many entertainment formats. But even today, Essen still has the largest multiplex cinema, the "CinemaxX", and the largest movie theater in Germany, the "Lichtburg".

Blick in die Sonderausstellung »Glückauf – Film ab! Kino- und Filmgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets«
Werbung für den Film „Der Dieb von Bagdad” in Essen, 1949
Kinokasse, 1950er Jahre
Filmpremiere von „Monpti” (1957, Helmut Käutner) mit Romy Schneider in der Essener „Lichtburg“
Blick in die Sonderausstellung »Glückauf – Film ab! Kino- und Filmgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets«
Plakat zum Spielfilm „Quax, der Bruchpilot”, 1941
Gerhard Ilg im Atelier des „Palast-Theaters“ in Mülheim a.d. Ruhr, 1950
Leuchtschriftzüge der „Lichtburg“ Lünen mit ihren drei Sälen, 1979
Blick in die Sonderausstellung »Glückauf – Film ab! Kino- und Filmgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets«
Dreharbeiten für den Film „Die Verdammten” (1969, Luchino Visconti) an der Essener Straße in Oberhausen, 1968
Szenenfoto aus dem Fernsehspiel „Smog” (1973, Wolfgang Petersen)
Filmpremiere von „Gift im Zoo" in der Essener „Lichtburg“, 1952
Blick in die Sonderausstellung »Glückauf – Film ab! Kino- und Filmgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets«
Kinosaal im Glückauf-Haus, 1923
Zarah Leander gibt Autogramme bei der Uraufführung des Films „Gabriela" in der Essener „Lichtburg“, 1950
Blick in die Sonderausstellung »Glückauf – Film ab! Kino- und Filmgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets«
Filmwerbung für die „Lichtburg“ in der Essener Stadtmitte, 1960
Kassenhäuschen aus dem „Filmcasino“ in Essen, um 1950
Videothek-Schild aus dem Film „Bang Boom Bang – Ein todsicheres Ding” (1999, Peter Thorwarth), um 1998
Postkarte: Untertagekino der Gutehoffnungshütte in Oberhausen, um 1939
Blick in die Sonderausstellung »Glückauf – Film ab! Kino- und Filmgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets«
Projektor „Imperator II“ (Fried. Krupp AG, Essen/ Ernemann-Werke AG, Dresden), um 1925
Drehbuch zum Film "Theo gegen den Rest der Welt" (1980, Peter F. Bringmann), Matthias Seelig, um 1979
Publikumspreis „Jupiter“, verliehen an Peter Thorwarth für den Film „Was nicht passt wird passend gemacht”, 2002
Blick in die Sonderausstellung »Glückauf – Film ab! Kino- und Filmgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets«
Plakat zum Spielfilm „Protéa” (1913, Victorin-Hippolyte Jasset)
Transparentwerbung für die „24. Westdeutsche Kurzfilmtage“, 1978
Postkarte „Lichtburg“ in Essen, 1928
Schimanski-Jacke mit Einschussloch und Filmblut aus „Loverboy“ (2013, Kaspar Heidelbach), signiert von Götz George, 2013
Blick in die Sonderausstellung »Glückauf – Film ab! Kino- und Filmgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets«
Türknauf aus dem „Bali“-Kino im Bochumer Hauptbahnhof, 1957
100 Jahre Filmstudio Glückauf, 2024
Kinotransparent für den Film "Die Frühreifen" (1957, Josef von Báky), um 1957
Blick in die Sonderausstellung »Glückauf – Film ab! Kino- und Filmgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets«
„Silberner Bär“ der Berlinale für das Drehbuch „Alle Jahre wieder“ von Michael Lentz, 1967
Leuchtreklame „Komm wir geh'n ins Kino“, 1970er Jahre
Blick in die Sonderausstellung »Glückauf – Film ab! Kino- und Filmgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets«
Kartenabreißautomat aus der „Lichtburg“ in Dinslaken, um 1970
Blick in die Sonderausstellung »Glückauf – Film ab! Kino- und Filmgeschichte des Ruhrgebiets«

The design

Moving images in the bunker: the unique rooms on the bunker level of the coal washing plant provide a spectacular setting for the Ruhr region's cinematic and film history. Even in the stairwell, the journey becomes a countdown for guests. Once on the exhibition level, the main room with its three-aisled structure opens up before the visitors. Four large projection screens are powerfully arranged here. A total of over 20 different media stations offer a wide range of films on all topics and periods of the Ruhr region's film and cinema history.

The 20 chapters of the exhibition are structured by the exhibition structures arranged along the central axis, which extend from the entrance to the end of the main room like a spine. The vanishing point at the end is a huge hand-painted banner from the heyday of cinema advertising. As a visual prelude, a large projection with architectural photographs from the region, which is rich in impressive cinema buildings, appears in the middle of the room. White exhibition furniture, velvet red object backgrounds, contrasting with gold anodized backgrounds, are reminiscent of the "golden age of cinema". The design of the cabinets is reduced to basic, recurring elements, thus achieving maximum focus on the content itself.

Designer Hannes Bierkämper from südstudio says: "Cinema thrives on big images. And that was also our approach for the exhibition. This makes it just as magical as the cinema experience itself."


The accompanying program

In addition to the classics such as guided tours and workshops, there will be a series of lectures, excursions, two panel discussions and the most extensive film program ever to accompany a special exhibition at the Ruhr Museum. The daily offerings include the free audio guide, narrated by none other than actor Henning Baum, and the free quiz for families with children aged 6 and over. Both lead to the highlights of the exhibition.

To accompany the exhibition, various film series will start in September 2024 - both at the Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site and at the "Filmstudio Glückauf" and in some Essen districts. As part of 25 Sunday matinees, Essen's film art theaters will be showing outstanding feature films from the last 100 years that were shot in the Ruhr region or deal with the milieu and typical characters of the region. As part of the Wanderkino series of events, five classic films will be shown in their original Turkish, Spanish, Greek and Ukrainian versions with German subtitles. They will be shown in a living room atmosphere in various districts of Essen. From October, a documentary film series will follow at the Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site, where rarely shown film treasures from the last 120 years will be presented on ten Tuesday evenings. Film experts will introduce the events, which will be followed by discussions with the audience. Detailed information on the film screenings will be available here from mid-August and in the film program booklet published at the same time.


Offers for schools

Various guided tours are available for school classes, in which the cinema and film history of the Ruhr region is discussed in the exhibition using exhibits and film clips. The pupils use exhibits to analyze the special features of the Ruhr region in film. To help you plan your visit, you can download the accompanying material for schools for the special exhibition "Glückauf - Film ab!" here.


The sponsors

The exhibition project, the accompanying program and the catalog were generously supported by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Stiftung, Allbau GmbH, Kulturstiftung Essen, Sparkasse Essen, Stadtwerke Essen AG and Stiftung Mercator.


The cooperation

Two major cultural institutions in Essen have joined forces for this exhibition: the Essener Filmkunsttheater, beacons of the cinema landscape in North Rhine-Westphalia, and the Ruhr Museum, the local history museum of the Ruhr region in the former coal washing plant at the Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site in Essen. The extensive film program of the exhibition was contributed by the Kinemathek im Ruhrgebiet.


The Essen Art Cinema The roots of the Essen Art Cinema go back over 60 years. Back then, Hanns-Peter Hüster was one of the pioneers of municipal film work and the development of the art house cinema scene in North Rhine-Westphalia. For many decades, he ran the Essener Filmkunsttheater together with Marianne Menze. Since his death in 2020, Marianne Menze is currently the sole managing director. The six Essen cinemas that are now part of the Essener Filmkunsttheater, Lichtburg, Filmstudio Glückauf, Eulenspiegel, Astra-Theater & Luna and Galerie Cinema, are the only cinemas in the city that survived the opening of CinemaxX in 1991 due to their special program and individual style. The programs of Lichtburg & Sabu in the Lichtburg (1250/150 seats), _ Eulenspiegel (288 seats), Astra-Theater & Luna (346/61 seats), Filmstudio Glückauf (250 seats) and Galerie Cinema (45 seats) are primarily made up of current premieres, but are supplemented by premieres, film series, original versions, silent films with live music, children's films, cinema for senior citizens, festivals and other special events. For years, Essen's art-house cinemas have regularly received awards from the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for their "outstanding annual programs". www.filmspiegel-essen.de


The Kinemathek imRuhrgebiet As one of the authors of the retrospective "Das Ruhrgebiet im Film" at the West German Short Film Festival Oberhausen in 1978, Paul Hofmann founded the Kinemathek im Ruhrgebiet in 1988 as a permanent regional research and documentation facility. Its collections form a regional film archive for the industrial landscape between the Rhine, Ruhr and Lippe. Its aim is to record all film, video and television productions shot in and about the Ruhr region. In addition, in cooperation with other institutions, it collects, preserves and makes accessible film documents on the history of the industrial region and, where possible, makes them accessible again. The thematic focus is on industrial and social history, the history of the labor movement, political movements since the 1960s, the social struggles of the 1970s and 1980s, the history of documentary film, amateur film, the self-portrayal of the region and its cities as well as the history of industrial film. In addition to moving images, the Kinemathek im Ruhrgebiet archives other materials that are indispensable for film historical research, such as scripts, posters, photos, film programs and other documents, including old stocks from former production companies and film distributors. The Kinemathek in the Ruhr region publicizes its work in various forms. From the very beginning, it has presented countless film programs with a wide variety of local partners and throughout the region and has been involved in numerous special exhibitions at the Ruhr Museum with accompanying film series since the 1980s, as is the case again with this exhibition.

Paul Hofmann from the Kinemathek im Ruhrgebiet explains: "The exceptionally extensive documentary film work in the Ruhr region has written film history over the past sixty years. Filmmakers have added their own important facets to the iconic (film) image of the region, created documents of social and industrial change and also brought the power of their moving images to bear on the social struggles of the time."


The Ruhr Museum Present, memory and history in a spectacular industrial setting: In its permanent exhibition, the Ruhr Museum at the Zollverein UNESCO World Heritage Site in Essen showcases the fascinating natural and cultural history of one of the world's largest industrial regions, from the formation of coal over 300 million years ago to the modern Ruhr metropolis. Following the former path of the coal, visitors descend deeper and deeper into the history of the Ruhr region. The route takes you through windowless bunkers, past huge industrial machines, raw concrete walls and conveyor belts. In between, over 6,000 objects show how a formerly agricultural region developed into Europe's largest coal and steel production area and became today's Ruhr metropolis. Special exhibitions on a wide variety of Ruhr area topics provide unique insights into the history of a region in transition. The show depot at the Zollverein coking plant, the small studio house and the model apartment on the Margarethenhöhe, the Halbachhammer, the Mineral Museum and the Deilbachtal valley complete the offer as outposts.


The free audio guide app

1 hour, in German and English Narrated by Henning Baum The app tour takes you through the fascinating world of film and cinema in the Ruhr region at 21 stations.

To the audio guide app


The catalog

295 pages, with more than 300 illustrations, Klartext Verlag, Essen 2024, € 29.95 ISBN 978-3-8375-2632-5


Flyer for the exhibition

Further information on the exhibition and the extensive accompanying program can be downloaded here as PDFs:

Flyer (PDF)


The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive program of events. Guided tours and other events can be found in our calendar:

Audio guide

Free audio tour of the exhibition in German or English:

App Store (iOS)

Google Play (Android)