The Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change

is a research museum of the Leibniz Association

Construction of the Rainforest Exhibition




The implementation of the permanent exhibition RAINFOREST is one of the most elaborate exhibition projects at the ZFMK. The UNDERSTOREY exhibition on the ground floor (open since April 2016) and the CANOPY exhibition that is currently under construction on the first floor will, in combination, form a unique habitat staging in the Museum Koenig, conveying visitors the complex ecological interplay in the extraordinarily diverse ecosystem "Tropical Rainforest" in a vivid way. Centerpieces of the rainforest staging are huge multi-part habitat dioramas. Various habitat sections of an African lowland rainforest, from the forest floor up to the canopy, are faithfully reproduced down to the smallest detail. The basis for the authentic staging is original plant material from various African lowland rainforest areas: In 2012, a collection expedition to Gabon was carried out to equip the UNDERSTOREY. For the collection of the material for the CANOPY exhibition in 2018 employees of the museum undertook an expedition to Ghana, whereby the collection of plant material from the up to 60 meters high treetops was a particular challenge.


The rainforest grows leaf by leaf

Tree trunks, lianas, branches, termite mounds and litter brought from Gabon and Ghana are directly applied as original material in the rainforest dioramas. Summed up, for the UNDERSTOREY and the CANOPY exhibition more than 1,600 different fresh leaves out of more than 90 different plant species were collected on site in Africa and then brought to Bonn. Here, in the preparation studio of the museum, the collected leaves were moulded and then multiplied by thermoforming to about 90,000 plastic sheets altogether. Up to the finest leaf veining, these sheets are exact copies of the original rainforest leaves.

Fotoserie Blattproduktion für Regenwald-Unterholz
Formation of the rainforest understorey - from the original model to the perfect replica.

Each individual thermoformed plastic sheet is coloured after its natural pattern, individually shaped and provided with imitations of food marks and epiphylls, to be finally mounted on original branches or replicated plant stems. Tree trunks and branches are moulded and a variety of flowers and fungi are replicated exactly after the natural model. In this way, step by step the three-dimensional rainforest staging in the Museum Koenig is created in front of the landscape panorama pictures recorded 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 ZFMK.


Contact person

Exhibition Conception
Project Manager "Rainforest Exhibition"
+49 228 9122-282
+49 228 9122-212
c.seibt [at]