The entire first floor of the museum is devoted to a tour of Hamburg‘s vibrant history from the city’s beginnings in the small 9th century settlement Hammaburg until today. The exhibition provides fascinating insights into the development of the city and its economy, harbour and trade.

The first part of the tour covers the period from the 9th to 14th century. Here, the main exhibit is the reconstruction of a “Kogge” – the early Hanseatic trading vessel – in whose interior visitors can form an impression of medieval sea trade and its risks. This part of the exhibition also brings to life the legend of the pirate Klaus Störtebeker and his gang. The 16th century and the changes brought about by the reformation are represented by an outstanding collection of ecclesiastic sculptures and other exhibits.

The great increase in the political, economic and cultural importance of Hamburg during the 17th century, due mainly to the securing of the Elbe waterways, immigration from across Europe and new commercial contacts and practices, can be studied in the grand merchant hall and large city model with Hamburg’s then newly erected fortifications. New industries which formed the basis of flourishing trade relations from the 18th century onwards, such as shipbuilding and convoy shipping, are illustrated by fascinating exhibits like the big shipyard model of the convoy ship “Wapen von Hamburg III”.

During the 19th century, the rapid expansion of Hamburg was shaped by two major events: the Great Fire of 1842 and Cholera Epidemic of 1892. The changes in the cityscape caused by these disasters are illustrated by impressive works of art, photographs and city models.

The increasing importance of the harbour as a site of goods transport, shipbuilding and emigration around the turn of the last century is brought to life by a large harbour model presented at the Paris World‘s Fair in 1900. The harbour’s role as a motor for economic expansion and urban development continued to grow during the 20th century. The exhibition area “Taktgeber Hafen” presents media installations and exciting exhibits on this period. The Hamburg Media Table with digital maps, a time wheel and interactive information points invites visitors to review Hamburg’s history again digitally at the end of the tour.