I decided to make a little trip to Wels, a city in Upper Austria. It is confirmed that there were already settlements in the Neolithic Area, but I wasn´t there to learn about the past, but about our achievements exploring space.
They had a special exhibition with the title Schwerelos – Abenteuer Weltraum. (What could be translated with “Zero Gravity – Space Adventure”.) It was in the Welios – they define themselves as a “Science Center”. While in most museums it is not allowed to toy around with the objects and just those days a 91 year old woman got into trouble, as she filled out a crossword on an artwork by Arthur Köpcke in a museum in Nuremberg, the Welios invites to join in!
I am frank, I knew in advance that the Welios has families and school classes as a main target group – but most museums rely on them, as adults alone often become lazy when it gets to enjoy art, culture and science that is beyond Hollywood movies in their leisure time, while families often seek for activities they can do together. But being there, I realized that I have been the only adult person without at least one child in tie.
I have been at the permanent exhibition first and yes, it was mainly aimed towards children. But you know, I am a science-fiction fan. I have kept this certain sense of wonder, so I did not mind about it. The main topic seemed to be energy and there were a lot of stations to get up, pull down or to turn a crank. (The homepage says they are over 120 of them. I did not count.) And in fact it explained a lot of facts about energy I bet a lot of adults have not understood before – or understood once, but meanwhile forgot.
But, although I went to through, this was not the reason I have been there, but I kept the best part on circuit. The occasion for the special exhibition was the 25th anniversary of the first (and even now only) Austrian in space. Our landsman Franz Viehböck started from the spaceport in Baikonur (Kazakhstan), visted the space station Mir and conducted 15 experiments in the fields of space medicine, physics and space technology, together with two Soviet cosmonauts. He returned safely. Some equipment used on the Mir and also Franz Viehböck´s spacesuit are exhibited in the Welios.
The exhibition had some other highlights as well, for one example a mars rover to be control visitors – unfortunately it seemed out of order the day I have been there. Therefore the aerotrim, a training device for future astronauts, was in use and people stood in a line for it.
Also a rebuilt Sojuz space capsule had been available to the visitors, who take place and enjoy a space experience with a TV-screen, shaking seats and sound animation. There was also the possibility to try out how it feels like for an astronaut to grab objects for a repair in thick gloves. Visitors could also pull up a weight and feel how light or heavy it feels, depending on the planet where it is lifted.