Construction of the Rainforest Exhibition
The implementation of the permanent exhibition RAINFOREST is one of the most elaborate exhibition projects at Museum Koenig. With the UNDERSTOREY exhibition on the ground floor (open since April 2016) and the CANOPY exhibition on the first floor above (open since December 2022), Museum Koenig has created a unique habitat staging that gives visitors a vivid understanding of the complex ecological interplay in the extraordinarily diverse tropical rainforest ecosystem. The "centerpieces" of the rainforest staging are the large habitat dioramas, in which an African lowland rainforest is faithfully reproduced down to the smallest detail - from the forest floor up to the canopy! The original plant material for the authentic staging was collected by Museum Koenig employees during expeditions to various African lowland rainforest areas: In 2012, a collection expedition to Gabon was carried out to equip the UNDERSTOREY. For the CANOPY museum employees undertook an expedition to Ghana in 2018, whereby the collection of plant material from the up to 60 meters high treetops posed a particular challenge.
The rainforest grew leaf by leaf
Tree trunks, termite mounds, litter, lianas and canopy branches brought back from Gabon and Ghana were directly applied as originals in the rainforest dioramas. Summed up, more than 1,600 different fresh leaves out of more than 90 different plant species were collected on site in Africa. Upon the arrival of the material in Bonn each leaf was individually moulded in the museum's preparation studio and then reproduced by deep-drawing technique, resulting into a total of more than 100,000 plastic leaves, that are now applied in the large UNDERSTOREY and CANOPY habitat dioramas. Up to the finest leaf veining, these plastic leaves are exact copies of the original rainforest leaves.
From original to true-to-life image: production of rainforest vegetation at Museum Koenig.
Each thermoformed plastic leaf is hand-coloured according to its natural model, individually shaped and provided with imitations of feeding marks and epiphylls, before it was finally being mounted on original branches or replicated plant stems. Tree trunks and branches were also moulded and a variety of flowers and fungi were replicated exactly after their natural model. In this way, step by step, the three-dimensional rainforest staging in the Museum Koenig was created in front of the panoramic pictures recorded on site in Africa.
Rainforest: Making of in 90 seconds
A compilation of short-film clips, created on the occasion of a student challenge organized by the AKG and the Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, provides an impression of the elaborate preparatory work for the new rainforest exhibition in a 90-second timelapse.
The original material collected during the expeditions into the African lowland rainforests provides the basis for a scientifically sound rainforest staging showing manual craftsmanship at highest quality level. The accuracy and authenticity of the outcoming rainforest scenery is inimitable compared with other European exhibitions and surely forms the unique selling point of the new Rainforest Exhibit at Museum Koenig.