We loved our visit to Umwelt Arena, a huge interactive museum for families focused on taking care of our environment. Our kids loved playing with the educational games scattered through the museum and especially enjoyed testing the fun variety of scooters and bikes on the enormous track on the bottom floor. I was excited to learn more ways to improve our family’s environmental impact. There was so much to see, we’ll definitely go back to learn and play more.
|Location:||Aargau, near Zurich|
|Address:||Türliackerstrasse 4, 8957 Spreitenbach
near Spreitenbach Shopping Center
|Car:||25 mins from Zurich center|
|Train:||40 mins from Zurich HB to Spreitenbach, Shopping Center|
|Open:||Thurs – Fri 10:00 to 18:00, Sat – Sun 10:00 to 17:00. Closed Mon – Wed.|
|Price:||Adult CHF 15, Child 6 to 16 CHF 9, children under 6 free
Family ticket CHF 35
20% discount with Coop Supercard or Zurich Card
|Services:||cafe, picnic area, stroller accessible, lockers|
The Umwelt Arena has four floors of interactive exhibits, focused on a large variety of environmental topics, products and industries, including electric vehicles, recycling, food production, solar power, etc. The exhibits are accompanied by colorful displays and accessible explanations of the science. The text is in German, but about half of the exhibits also have text in English.
Most exhibits have a game and interactive elements designed for children, like seeing how much energy you can produce by riding a bike. My kids had lots of fun on their own, but I also encouraged them to read the text so they learned something as well.
The lower floor is a large track for testing scooters, bikes, go-karts, E-bikes, Segways, and electric cars. This was our kids’ favorite part of the museum and popular with all visitors. Details below.
You can simply wander where your interest takes you and learn and play as you go. The museum offers an audio guide phone app (CHF 4, German only) and guided tours, which may enhance your visit, but you can certainly have a full experience without them.
By car: Drive to Spreitenbach and follow signs to Umwelt Arena, which is just north of the Spreitenbach Shopping Center. There is a metered parking garage below the museum, CHF 4 for 4 hours. After that it’s CHF 2/hr which gets a little pricey.
By public transport: Take a train to Killwangen-Spreitenbach or Dietikon. Then take a bus to Spreitenbach Shopping Center. It is a short walk through the shopping center then across the street to the museum as shown below.
The museum has a big open format with the first two floors of exhibits surrounding and overlooking the track below. Each floor has a theme: Nature & Life, Energy & Mobility, Building & Modernization, and Renewable Energy. We spent so much time on the first two floors, that we didn’t have much energy left for the upper floors and only briefly looked at them. We’ll just have to go back!
The museum provides a brochure that outlines the exhibits that have special elements for kids. They will give you a printed copy when you buy your ticket (German only).
Here are a few of the exhibits just to give you a taste of what you can see. There were so many exhibits, I couldn’t possible document all of them. On the bikes below, the kids could see how much they had to pedal to generate 1 Watt of energy. Answer: too much!
This giant slide was a hit with the kids, lighting up with the energy generated by kids sliding down (if I understood it correctly). The recycling trees on the right were decorated with disposable cups, which are a big part of the trash problem in the world.
My kids loved “driving” this electric car, which encouraged them to not drive fast and coast when appropriate to save energy. If they drove too fast, the energy dropped quickly and their turn ended.
On the left, using the row machine to power a house. On the right, sending balls up to the track on the ceiling, representing some sort of water power. A few employees wander the museum helping guests understand how to use the exhibits if necessary. This nice woman spoke English and helped my kids a few times.
Trying to balance their energy, mirroring a real-world challenge explained on the screen.
Testing kinetic energy with marbles on the left. On the right, kids can guess different water sounds listening through a shower head.
Vehicle Testing Floor
Of course, the testing floor was my kids favorite part of the museum. They could try a variety of weird scooters and bikes. The testing floor is generally open in the afternoons, but the hours vary each day, so check the website. We noticed that there was a big rush and line at the beginning of the testing period, but after about 30 minutes, it calmed down and there was no longer a wait and my kids could do as many rounds on the track as they wanted.
They provide helmets in child and adult sizes. You should wear them for any vehicle but definitely for this crazy two handled bike.
Children over 5 can use the scooters and go karts with a red tag, shown on the left. Children under 5 can use bobby cars in a separate corner away from the track, shown on the right.
Our 7 and 9 year olds could ride the double go-kart, with adjustable seats, and race their friends.
Children over 10 can use scooters and bikes with a blue tag, which are too tall for younger kids.
You must be 14 to use any of the electric scooters, bikes or Segway. I tried several electric bikes, which was a new experience for me. They were great! I might have to buy one.
They also have a short testing session for electric cars. Only adults over 18 can drive these cars, but children can be passengers. My son was super excited to ride in one of the tiny electric cars while I drove. The car below is just like the one we tested, but this one is stationary and kids can sit in the driver’s seat.
Quiz & Prize
When you collect your tickets, you will receive a quiz sheet for the Family Tour (German only). At ten stations around the museum (shown below), you can answer a question on your quiz. The quiz is pretty simple but you do have to read some of the exhibit text to find the answers. I liked that it encouraged our family to explore all the floors of the museum and we learned some cool facts, like how much gold is thrown away every year in Switzerland. You’ll have to visit the museum to find out!
The completed quiz can be turned in at the entrance to enter a monthly contest. In February the prize was a robotic arm. You can see the current prizes on their website.
Besides all the interactive elements, the museum is packed with educational information presented in a fun, accessible way. Many exhibits are accompanied by touch screen displays or videos, many with an English option. Here are a few exhibits I particularly liked:
The recycling section showed how much Switzerland recycles and throws away in each category. Switzerland is one of the top countries in the world when it comes to recycling!
Below the kids made paper airplanes while I learned more about textile recycling.
I loved the household section on the third floor, which showcased all sorts of energy saving smart appliances and design elements like water saving faucets. The displays looked a little like a home improvement store, but with experiments and science instead of prices. The lighting section let you test different kinds of bulbs and compare in real time the energy they were consuming and see how much you could save in your household budget by replacing the bulbs. You can turn on a variety of faucets and compare the volume of water used by each in the same time. Made me want to become a home owner so I could refit my home with all these cool gadgets.
The roof had a variety of solar and wind power panels on display, some attractively built into furniture, decking and walls. It was nice to get a little fresh air up here.
Most exhibits are sponsored by companies, like VW for the electric cars, SwissCom for mobile technology, Coop for the food production, IKEA for furniture. But I didn’t feel like they were overtly selling to me. In contrast, I was excited to learn how these companies are investing in environmentally friendly technologies, supplies and processes. Plus there were dozens of companies represented, so the museum isn’t dominated by any one marketing message.
The museum was so large, we couldn’t see everything. I would love to go back and spend more time exploring the upper floors.
Services & Facilities
The whole facility is accessible by strollers or wheelchairs. There is a cafe near the entrance with a kids menu, including veggie soup as a healthy option. There is a picnic area inside the museum. There are lockers one floor below the entrance, with a CHF 2 deposit. You can store your picnic here and later bring it to the picnic area when you are ready to eat.
That was a long post, but I didn’t even show you a fraction of what we saw at Umwelt Arena. You should definitely check out this museum with your family. I think they’ll love it.
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