A LOGICAL and characteristic expression of the national spirit of modern Germany is to be found in the Institut für Meereskunde which was established in 1900 in connection with the Königliche Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität at Berlin. The rise of Germany as a maritime power has found popular demonstration in the Marine Expositions at Berlin in the winter of 1897-1898 and again in the summer of 1908. The first exposition led to the beginning of a permanent marine museum and the second contributed greatly to its expansion. In 1898 the German Naval Bureau together with the Prussian Cultus Ministerium undertook the establishment of an oceanographical institute in conjunction with some Prussian university, plans for which were drawn up by Professors E. v. Drygalski and E. v. Halle with the later assistance of Freiherr v. Richthofen. The enterprise had from the beginning the deep personal interest and cooperation of the German Emperor. It finally took the form of the Institut für Meereskunde of which Professor Albrecht Penck is director.
In 1906 the Museum für Meereskunde connected with the Institut für Meereskunde was opened in the building on Georgenstrasse, formerly occupied by the chemical laboratory of the university. The purpose of the museum has been stated by its director to be "to inspire and to diffuse far and wide in the German nation by means of its exhibits a conception and understanding of the sea and its phenomena, the means employed in its exploration, the wealth of its life, and its economic value, as well as the social and national significance of navigation, marine commerce and sea power." "Deutschland zur See" is its motto!
This end has been sought by the almost lavish installation of exhibits which reveal everywhere the combination of technical skill and broad scientific knowledge and direction, together with a remarkable freedom from conventional methods in design and execution of the displays.
The exhibits are found on the two lower floors of the building and offices, library and laboratories are on the third floor. The whole of the first floor and part of the basement are given up to a most varied and elaborate display of the German naval and marine interests along historical, structural and mechanical lines. The second floor contains