I vaguely knew of the Steiff brand, and that many people like to collect Steiff teddy bears. I didn’t really know what to expect from the museum, but it sounded like an interesting afternoon out.
We were pleased to discover that the museum offers tours in both German and English. The tour started off with our group sitting on benches facing a small room filled with antique-looking furniture. Here we heard the story (and watched it come to life through animatronics) of how Margarete Steiff began making stuffed animals which were originally intended to be pincushions but ended up being very popular with children who loved to play with them.
We then moved on from Margarete’s home to the workshop where her nephew Richard would later go on to create the iconic Steiff teddy bear. The platform on which we were all standing and watching a teddy bear tell us about Richard and his many creations then rose up into a sort of elevator that took us up the next level.
The rest of the tour had us searching through the sea, the north pole and the stars to try and find a shipment of Steiff teddy bears that had gone missing in 1903 (click here for an article by the BBC about the “missing” bears.) The tour was fun and entertaining, not just for kids but for adults, too (though I am admittedly still a kid at heart). Still, I think something about seeing animatronic animals sing and dance makes most people feel like a kid again 🙂
After the guided tour finishes, you exit into an area with HUGE stuffed animals for kids to climb onto and “ride.” Some of them were big enough that we figured they should be safe enough for adults, too, so we had a ball climbing onto the huge elephant and polar bear. Then, the fun continued when we had the option to take a slide down to the next floor or take the boring old stairs. Which one do you think we chose? 😉
On that floor, there were lots of display cases showing Steiff bears and stuffed animals that have been created through the years. Each display case had a description and information also written in English, which I really appreciated. You could also see a small workshop area where Steiff animals were being put together by hand by staff.
After we finished seeing the museum, I spent some quality time in the gift shop looking at all the bears and different stuffed animals, as well as the adorable baby and children’s clothing on offer. It was all of particular interest to me as we’re expecting a little German-American bundle of joy at the end of January 2013. I had originally thought maybe we could buy the little one a real, collectible Steiff bear for him or her to enjoy at an older age, but decided against that when I looked at the price tag. Dang, Steiff bears are expensive! So instead we opted for a cute little stuffed lamb on wheels (an actual baby toy) that can have the wheels removed for when the baby is small, and then added back on at a later stage when he or she can pull it around by its string. It was still a nice memento from the visit, and a toy that will bring back those fun memories when our little one plays with it someday.