, situated in the Neudorf area of Strasbourg
, is a project headed by the General Council of the Bas-Rhin
and a place where science and technology can be discovered through playful ways and means. Although it is particularly geared towards children and young people aged between 3 and 15 years old, the Vaisseau also attracts families, schools, groups and tourists as well as businesses.
Through its desire to be accessible to all, the Vaisseau offers the opportunity for children of all ages and nationalities to come together and discuss everything to do with science, something which is facilitated by the fact that all of the permanent exhibitions in the Vaisseau are not only trilingual (French, German and English), but also available in Braille.
The motto at the Vaisseau is “learning while having fun”. The project itself aims to serve as a support for parents and teachers alike in their roles as educators, and through this offers them many different activities: tri-lingual interactive exhibitions, temporary exhibitions, a large educational garden, 3D films, workshops and much more.
The idea for creating the Vaisseau came about in 1998, when the General Council of the Bas-Rhin housed an exhibition from the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris
. Attracting 10,000 young visitors within just two months, the exhibition showed the possibility for success in creating a permanent home for science and technology in Strasbourg.
The proposal was officially announced in 2000, to be led by Guy-Dominique Kennel, then Vice President of the General Council. After an architectural competition was launched, it was announced in 2000 that the project’s architects were to be Bernard Weixler and François Rohmer, joined by the exhibition designer Jérôme Habersetzer.
The foundation stone was laid in October 2002 on a piece of land measuring 18,000m² in the Neudorf area of Strasbourg. The name ‘the Vaisseau’ was chosen by a group of children staying at the Wangenbourg residential camp; meaning ‘large ship’, the Vaisseau became symbolic of children’s journey of discovery through science and technology, and led to certain aspects of the establishment following this theme, for example the ‘Journal de Bord’, or ship’s log, being chosen as the title for the Vaisseau’s quarterly magazine.
The detailed cultural program for the Vaisseau was revealed in June 2004. After a short trial period from January 6th until February 13th 2005, the Vaisseau opened its doors on February 22nd.
The World and I
“The World and I” gives you the opportunity to change the way your head looks, have a race with your skeleton, and use experiments to better understand yourself and those around you. This area of the Vaisseau aims to make it possible for children to understand the complexity of the human body and to realise how difficult it can be to live with a disability.
Discover the World of Animals
Here children can observe, describe, imitate and classify many different creatures from the world around us. This section aims to allow children and young people to better understand and respect the animal world.
In this area children can become young construction managers or engineers. The Vaisseau aims to show them how to develop an idea, plan a project, organise it and see it through. They can do this trying out new and different techniques and understanding their functions.
Secrets of the Image
This section of the Vaisseau aims to take children on a journey through the world of pictures and sound. Here they are surrounded by the different elements of the world around them, and they can learn the secrets of their success: composition, creation, alteration and circulation.
The Garden area of the Vaisseau covers 5,000m² snaking around the building. Here children can get to know flora and fauna, investigate the scientific, nature and sensory trails, take a visit to the pond to see all its inhabitants, and visit the black-bellied hamster or the Dwarf sheep of Ushant
who all live on site.
The Boutique is situated opposite the till area in the entrance hall to the Vaisseau. Open Tuesday to Sunday, from 11:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., the Boutique offers a wide range of fun and educational products. The Boutique can be accessed without an entrance ticket to the Vaisseau.
The Cafeteria offers a range of custom-made salads and sandwiches and brightly coloured beverages. It is open Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and during the Alsatian holiday periods, from 11:30 a.m. until 5.30 p.m.
The Room of 1000 Crumbs
This is a large space available to schools classes and groups to use for lunch or picnics.
These are smaller spaces within the Vaisseau which can be used by groups for workshops or activities. As with all areas in the Vaisseau, these can be hired for private occasions.
Dialogue in the Dark
Dialogue in the Dark is the temporary exhibition being housed at the Vaisseau from April 22nd 2008 until March 8th 2009. It is a 500m² exhibition, 400m² of which plunges the visitor into complete darkness and a whole new journey of sensory discovery. Led by a blind or visually impaired guide, visitors must traverse the course in groups of eight, helped by a blind person’s white stick and the reassuring voice of their guide. In these strange new surroundings, the roles of the group and the visually impaired guide soon inverse- they must rely on their guide to lead them forward, as he/she calls on their other senses to take the lead, reassuring them of the way and helping them to see the unseen.
The course in darkness lasts around 1 hour, and visitors also take part in workshops in the light, in an area of the exhibition known as the ‘cocoon’. Here visitors can write their name in Braille, play tactical dominos, even experience a film with audio-commentary.
The purpose of this exhibition is not just to be a fun experience, but rather also an educational one. The project aims to open children and young people up to the world of handicap, to teach them not to fear the unknown but to embrace it, and to build bridges between all peoples using one of our most important tools- dialogue.
- Vaisseau homepage
- Dialogue in the Dark homepage