Welcome to the house that is all about the blue triangle – the house where the success story of Ravensburger began. The company founder Otto Maier bought it in 1886 and built the publishing company which made the name of the town of Ravensburg world-famous.
Today, Ravensburger is a leading seller of puzzles, games and Arts&Crafts in Europe and one of the leading sellers of children’s and young adult‘s books in the German-speaking region. The blue triangle, which you can find on every product, has been the trademark of Ravensburger brand since 1974 – it stands for values such as enjoyment, education and togetherness.
On our tour of the Museum Ravensburger, you will get to try out many things, and of course play a lot – on all three floors. Here on the ground floor you can find out all about the company's history; the first floor contains the Ravensburger games and puzzles; and the second floor is devoted to the Ravensburger books.
In this modern exhibition, you might tend to forget that you’re in one of the oldest houses in Ravensburg. For example, the wooden beams here on the ceiling are still the original ones which have been preserved – from 1416.
If you now go to the left through the illuminated door frame, you will enter the founder’s room.
The man who founded Ravensburger, worked at this desk: Otto Maier.
In 1876, when he was just 24 years old, he took over his parents‘ book shop. Seven years later, he began to publish books himself and founded the Otto-Maier publishing house which is now known as Ravensburger.
Take a look at the pages in the middle of the desk. The page on the bottom is a sketch for a board game on the subject of soccer or football. Otto Maier developed many product ideas himself – and brought them to fruition in a highly structured way. The two pages on top belong to an organizational plan. They give you a great impression of his way of working. He wrote down everything important for every new project – from the content, to the technical realisation, to the financial budget.
During his time as a publisher, Otto Maier released more than 1000 games, books and original works.
Just how systematically Otto Maier built his enterprise can also be seen from the cabinet at the other end of the room.
This is where he collected, sorted and evaluated. Many of the topics written on the labels on the shelves still play a role at Ravensburger today.
The cabinet, by the way, had been missing for a long time. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the grandchildren of Otto Maier found it again – and its contents were untouched.
If you want to get to know Otto Maier’s artistic side, click on the audio title for the four glass cases.
The four glass cases show how Otto Maier used his many talents in the publishing house. In the first case – to the left – is one of his sketch books. Otto Maier was an outstanding illustrator. After witnessing the launch of the first zeppelin at Lake Constance in 1900, he captured the spectacle in his sketch book. Later he released several zeppelin-themed products.
Otto Maier also had his pen and notebook with him when he went out for his long walks.
The second display case shows how he was inspired by nature – for example to create a rotatable star chart or a book about the types of rock on earth.
In the third case, you get to know Otto Maier the educator. From an early stage, he took a keen interest in the education theory of Friedrich Fröbel, the inventor of the kindergarten. According to this idea, children should be educated in a playful manner – a central principal of Ravensburger to this day.
The fourth glass case shows that Otto Maier was also keen to reach adults with creative interests who wanted to learn more about the arts.
Even though Ravensburger is now a privately held stock company operating in more than 90 countries and employing more than 2000 employees worldwide, it has remained a family business to this day.
Our picture gallery depicts the first three generations of the Maier family: Beginning with publishing house founder Otto, labelled with the number 1 …
… and his wife Helene – who is portrayed in picture number 2.
Picture number 3 shows their sons, Otto, Karl and Eugen when they were children.
You can see them again, this time as adults, in picture number 6 – this is their oldest son Otto Maier.
In number 7 is the second-oldest son Karl.
And in picture number 8 is their youngest son: Eugen.
Picture number 12 portrays the third generation: Dorothee Hess-Maier and her cousin Otto Julius Maier.
Since 2010, a family member of the fourth generation has been on the board of directors of Ravensburger: Picture number 13 shows Clemens Maier, a great-grandson of the publishing house founder, and son of Otto Julius Maier.
This room once was the treasure chamber of the house, where precious items were stored – today, it displays the treasures of our company‘s history:
Games such as “Fang den Hut”, known as “Coppit” in English – it has been part of our product range since 1927, making it our oldest classic game. The demure Bauhaus-style design has been retained over the decades.
Or the “Deutschlandreise”, in English “Journey through Germany”, from the 1930s. The borders have changed – the principle of the game remains the same.
“Malefiz“, or “Barricade”, is the well-known dice game in which you can tease other players. The name came about when Karl Maier, second-generation head of the publishing house, played a test game with his wife. After he took all of his wife’s pieces, she playfully scolded him with the Swabian expression.: „Du bisch doch ein Malefiz!“, which roughly translates as “You’re such a baddie!” and the game had its name.
Memory, the matching pairs game, is the most successful of Ravensburger’s games. It is played in more than 80 countries.
And with Scotland Yard, Ravensburger won the title of “Game of the Year” in 1983. Even though the legendary search for Mister X takes place in London, it was developed in Ravensburg by our own employees.
"Wer war’s”, also known as “Whoowasit?” in English, has won a lot of awards. It was one of the first games to combine the classic board game with modern electronics.
Another great game is "Funny Bunny", with all its bunnies and their wild chase to get the carrot. With worldwide sales of over 5 million, it’s one of Ravenburger’s most popular children’s games ever.
You can also see selected treasures of the Ravensburg book publishing house here.
From the search-and-find books of Ali Mitgutsch, to socio-critical youth literature like “Die Welle” - “The Wave”, to the book “Die Kunst der Farbe” - “The Elements of Colour”, which has been part of the curriculum of art schools for decades.
With more than 40 million copies sold, the books in the series "Wieso? Weshalb? Warum?”, or “Why? Why? Why?” in English, are the most successful children's non-fiction series in the German-speaking world.
The greatest treasure in the room can be seen on the wall to your left. It was the first game ever produced by Ravensburger, and dates from the year 1884: “Reise um die Erde”, based on Jules Verne's book “Around the World in 80 Days”. In the game, the days correspond to 80 squares. The only place in the world you can buy “Reise um die Erde” today is in our Museum Shop – it’s a reproduction that’s completely true to the original.
If you had been here in the early days of the Otto-Maier publishing house, you probably would have been in the way – because this wooden gate once was an important entrance. Games and books would be carried over these cobble stones out into the world.
This house remained the corporate head office of Ravensburger until the 1960s, and all the entire publishing business was carried out here.
Many thousands of stone blocks were delivered for the print shop. Take a look to the right through the glass pane.
Lithography – printing with stones – is explained there. It was extremely complex, because the colours blue, red, yellow and black were printed one after the other – thus four stones were necessary for one coloured page.
If you wanted to print a picture book with 20 pages – you needed 80 stones.
Lithography is the predecessor of today’s offset printing, which uses zinc plates to print.
After 1962 it became much quieter here. The company moved to the southern part of town.
In the small room, you can experience how advanced production is today – from the viewpoint of a Funny Bunny game box. The video shows you how the boxes are manufactured, production of the game pieces and punch-boards, followed by final assembly, loading onto pallets and the subsequent route to the high-rack warehouse.
The flat screens on the opposite wall present the milestones of the company’s history. From the founding years, to the second generation, and the reorientation of the publishing house by the third generation, starting in 1952. Click through the 1980s when Ravensburger got into children’s television, published its first children’s computer games and was successful with games such as “Enchanted Forest” and “Scotland Yard”. The 1990s saw expansion into new markets – like the United States. And the Ravensburger Spieleland, our theme park, was built. After the year 2000, the motto then becomes: “Head for the future” – for example with the development of 3D jigsaw puzzles, game apps and the audio-digital learning system tiptoi®.
Your audio guide will continue on the first floor of the museum, where you can experience the great variety of Ravensburger’s games.
Do you remember the last time you played memory®? Maybe the inside of your head looked just like this. Lots of confusion - but if you take a closer look, you can find matching pairs!
The principle of the game is ingeniously simple, yet challenging - and probably one of the reasons why memory® is so successful. With more than 75 million units sold, it is Ravensburger’s best-selling game. If you would lay out all cards that Ravensburger has produced to date, they would go round the world 8 times.
The success story began with a Swiss diplomat: William Hurter. He presented a game called "Zwillingsspiel" - in English "The Game of Twins“ - to Ravensburger, which at that time was known as the Otto Maier publishing company. Hunter had English-speaking neighbours, and their children always said: “Let’s play the memory® Game”. And thus the name was found: memory®!
The first edition came out in 1959, and all 6000 copies sold out in the same year. A sensation back then! Ever since, Ravensburger has published new themes every year - now including online and app formats.
In this mountain of boxes you can see a selection of our best-known games. It stands for the creativity involved in the development of Ravensburger Games and the design of the boxes. Maybe you can find your favourite game here.
In the colourful walls, you can find popular games from Ravensburger’s history. Take out the drawers or click on our games archive.
On the screen, advertisements from the past are being played.
We’re especially proud of our red stars in the floor, our “Walk of Fame”. The games listed have won the most important game award of the German-speaking region - earning the title “Game of the Year” or “Children’s Game of the Year”.
Now we’ll show you how a board game comes into being - with a classic game as an example - “Das Verrückte Labyrinth”, known in English as “Labyrinth”. It was developed by the Psychology professor Max Kobbert and to the left, in the first display case, you can see the prototype which he put together.
After that, Ravensburger tested the idea. The next display case, to the right, shows you how. The questionnaire at the front was filled out by a test family. This is how the editorial team can see if the game works - and if it’s fun. In the charts above, the editors searched for the perfect title. They also fine-tune the game-play and write the rules.
Take a look at the third case, to the right. This one displays the work of graphic designers and illustrators. For example, they develop the game board, the pieces and cards.
On to the next case. How thick are the cards? How tall are the pieces? Which colour should the plastic be made of? The technical product developers make a visually and functionally perfect product out of the author’s model.
A prototype of the game is tested in all development stages, especially with children. Here, for example, the focus is on whether they can cope with the materials, if the game flows smoothly, if the package design appeals to them and if the game’s rules are understandable. Once everything is right, the game goes into production.
Take a look at the last display case - to the right. Labyrinth has been released in more than 60 countries. Here, you can see the Italian version. On the game table in the room, a very special version of Labyrinth has been set up for you - as a duel between 2 players. You can hear more information about the special ceiling of this room if you choose the additional audio entitled “Ceiling” in your audio guide.
The Museum Ravensburger was consciously designed so that you can experience the long history of this house, time and time again. Here, for example, you can see how the ceiling has changed over the centuries. The long wooden beams are decorated with hearts and date back to the 15th century.
In the corner, you can see a green frame, which was created around 1500, and a layer of plaster above it from the 17th century.
Now let’s get to those who move across the game board in your place, perform tasks or get kicked out for you. All the things a game piece gets to experience can be seen on the inside of our three giant game pieces.
Inside the tree you take a stroll through Enchanted Forest. Inside the penguin, you conquer the wobbly iceberg of Penguin Pile-Up.
And the red game piece belongs to Malefiz or “Barricade”. It is one of the classic game pieces and even has its own name “Pöppel”, which is known as a “meeple” or pawn in English.
The wooden display case on the wall gives you an impression of the tremendous variety of Ravensburger game pieces - and what you can see here is just a small selection. Different kinds of material are represented: wood, plastic, cardboard or fabric. For each game, the pieces are custom-made.
Finally, it is well worth it to look up in this room - the ceiling is decorated with stucco from the 18th century. If you take a closer look, you can see panoramic scenes of the town. Above the wooden case, for example, the white tower is depicted, which you might have noticed on your way to the museum, the “Mehlsack” or “flour sack” - the landmark of the town of Ravensburg.
GraviTrax - the interactive marble run system – lets you experience the power of gravity. Before you set up your own run on the three tables here, you might like to test out our own show run in the showcase. Just throw in two marbles – and the race against time begins. GraviTrax combines gaming fun with the laws of physics - for kids as well as adults!
In the development of GraviTrax, every component is thoroughly tested out on kids to ensure that it corresponds to their abilities and wishes. So the developer team - consisting of educators, designers, engineers, project managers and innovation managers – has already learned a lot from all those junior architects.
Kids need free space to develop their ideas – which is why GraviTrax consists of so many different elements that can be combined to create entirely new runs over and over again. A further principle is: “Limitation makes you creative!” Building these runs follows certain rules - so not everything is always possible all of the time. Players often have to literally “think around corners” to get their marbles over the finish line….
And now it’s your turn. The touchscreen on the wall provides a few tips on how the expansions work. Have fun building!
Ravensburger is a leading producer of jigsaw puzzles in Europe.
Three-dimensional Ravensburger puzzles have been available since 2004: balls, pyramids or sights like the Tower Bridge. We have developed a special method to produce these curved and partially bendable puzzle pieces.
Under your feet is one of the largest 2D jigsaw puzzles from Ravensburger - a historical world map - made from 18,000 pieces. Through the glass in the floor, you can see a section of it. It is almost 3 metres wide and 2 metres long.
Production of a jigsaw puzzle is a very complex process. Take a look at the larger, illuminated display case in the corner. On the wooden board is a punch template. Every template for a puzzle is drawn by hand. Afterwards, specialists bend the metal edges and insert them into the base plate. This requires a lot of skill and patience.
A film is shown on the flatscreen, explaining how a puzzle is made - from the choice of motif to the finished packaging.
You can find two extra audios in your audioguide which tell you more about the mile stones of puzzle history and about the special ceiling in this room.
Let’s start with the display case which is located next to the passage you’ve just gone through to get into this room. The first jigsaw puzzles by Otto Maier were learning aids for geography lessons. They were intended to help students memorise the location of countries, cities and rivers. In Germany, at the beginning of the 20th century, jigsaw puzzles were called “Geduldsspiele”, or “patience games” in English.
The archetype of the jigsaw puzzle came from England. In 1766, the copperplate engraver John Spilsbury had glued a map of Great Britain onto a wooden board and cut it out along the borders of the various counties.
The “Märchen-Legespiel”, or “fairy tale tile game”, in the next case to the right, is from 1911. Otto Maier had taken the picture from his children’s book range. Even though they were cut into simple shapes and had few pieces, jigsaw puzzles were very expensive back then. Usually they could only be found in wealthy families.
In the display case further to the right, you can see one of the first Ravensburger jigsaw puzzles as you know them today - with interlocking parts. A sailboat from 1964. Up until then, jigsaws puzzles for adults weren’t well-known in Germany. Ravensburger made these interlocking puzzles popular. At the time, instructions were still included in the packaging. The first rule was: “Please be patient!”
Here you are in the former chapel of the house. Today, the only thing that remains is the ornately-painted ceiling from the 18th century. It is there because of a mayor of Ravensburg, who once owned this house: Franz Joseph von Gerer. The Baroque painting of this groined vault shows the four cardinal virtues:
Justice - with a sword and scales - although the scales are barely visible; fortitude - recognisable by its lance; temperance – portrayed with the reigns; and wisdom - symbolised by the mirror.
Publishing house founder Otto Maier believed in products which let children be creative. A belief that is still shared at Ravensburger today.
The yellow cottage is all about “Painting by Numbers”.
Ravensburger first presented the idea in 1975 at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, known in German as the “Spielwarenmesse”, and in the mid 1990s the hype reached its peak: Back then, Ravensburger had nearly 200 different motifs in its range and sold more than 3 million paint sets a year. Today, Ravensburger is still one of the leading game publishers in the area of painting.
In the pink cottage, children can design mandalas.
Mandalas are an old Asian tradition: round pictures with uniformly arranged shapes. In 2000, Ravensburger developed a drawing machine: the mandala designer, which allows children to produce their own patterns. The mandala designer is a worldwide success: today, the invention attracts children in more than 50 countries.
Creativity is also very much in demand in the green cottage – with "String it", you can create original pictures with sections of colored string! The special thing about "String it" is that the printed boards have pre-set contours and lines – so even younger kids can start right away. You just stick the pins in the board, choose the right string color, tie it tightly, and then just go all over the board from pin to pin – until the picture is finished!
On this floor, we’ll take you into the world of Ravensburger books - beginning with twelve selected titles in the blue triangle. Each one wrote publishing house history.
All the way to the left on the wall is “Die Neue Arche Noah” or “The animal farm” from 1955. With it, a new style of illustration was introduced into picture books.
To the right is “Das große Buch der Kinderbeschäftigungen”, “The Big Book of Children’s Pastimes“. Until the 1980s, it was a standard book for parents and teachers in Germany.
“Sehen Hören Sprechen”, or “Look, See, Talk”, helped educate preschool children through play-based learning. Back then, in 1973, the triangle at the bottom on the right was still black. One year later it became blue.
The “Maurerbuch” or “masonry book” was written after World War II, when all of Germany was a construction site. It embodies the reconstruction like hardly any other book.
“Die Wolke” or “Fall-Out“ critically deals with the topics of nuclear power and the atom bomb - after the nuclear reactor incident in Chernobyl. It won the German Youth Literature Award. After the incident in Fokushima in 2011, the book returned to the bestseller lists.
“Peter, Ida and Minimum“ was the first sex-education book for children from Ravensburger in the 1970s - it was published in a comic-book style.
“Leben auf dem Lande” - published in English as the “The complete book of self-sufficiency” - gave tips on how to live a life in harmony with nature. Ravensburger published it in 1978 as a reaction to the Green Movement in Germany.
Next to it, to the right, The “Werkbücher für Jungen und Mädchen”, “Girls’ and Boys’ Book of Crafts”, represents a time when gender roles were quite clearly distinct.
And with “Ich bin die kleine Katze”, or “I Am a Little Cat”, we get to the picture books made from cardboard. Illustrator Helmut Spanner has set a new standard with his illustrations. (The next room lets you see even more of them.)
Now there’s something else to try out – it’s tiptoi®, the audio-digital learning system for pre-school and grade-school kids. Wherever the pen lands on a tiptoi® game or book, it tells you something exciting. The optical sensor recognizes invisible codes and converts them into sounds, music and voices. tiptoi® can even set tasks - like a game show host. There’s an example on the wall here – the book "Mein Lern-Spiel-Abenteuer: Erste Buchstaben“ – or „My Learning Game Adventure : First Letters".
Electronic educational games have a long tradition at Ravensburger. The first one the company ever produced is on display in the showcase here: "Elexikon" from the 1970s!
Whenever kids held the two electronically connected plugs to the right image, a little lamp would come on. That way, they could discover all kinds of things from different areas of knowledge.
Ravensburger picture books accompany children from their first year on. Beginning with simple feel books made from plush, with increasing age more and more text is added - and playful elements, which improve fine motor skills. The content is geared towards the child’s age, in order to give the child a sense of achievement.
Picture books help children to learn to talk and read from an early age.
Now it‘s time to activate your imagination!
You’re in the middle of a giant Search-and-Find book by Ali Mitgutsch. There’s lots happening on every double page by the famous illustrator.
And whoever takes the time, can discover new details.
The first book of this series came out in 1968 and immediately won the German Children’s and Youth Book Award. Since then, Ali Mitgutsch has published more than 70 books for Ravensburger.
He has been inspired by his many travels. He once said that the world appeared as colourful and exciting to him as a large Search-and-Find book.
You’ll now get to travel through some of his pictures - Enjoy!
Get ready for takeoff into the universe of Ravensburger’s children non-fiction books. On the touch screens of our spaceship, you can pick your favourite topics and and look at them as ebooks. If you prefer to hold a real book in your hands, take a look at our on-board library. Let’s go…
“Wieso? Weshalb? Warum?“ - or “Why? Why? Why?“ - is a children’s non-fiction book series, which is only available in the German-speaking areas.
Children have many questions - and the Ravensburger Children’s Book Series gives answers. On the walls, you can see what makes the books so special: First of all, it’s the exciting questions, which interest children. For example: What happens at a construction site? Why does it rain? How do you become an astronaut?
Second, there are appealing illustrations, and finally, plenty of discovery flaps and interactive elements! They bring a new playful dimension to the picture book. The concept is popular: “Wieso? Weshalb? Warum?“ is the most successful children’s non-fiction book series in the German-speaking countries.
Welcome to the nest of the reading raven. This bird teaches elementary school children how to read.
The titles are divided up into reading levels - starting with Stage 1 for reading beginners, who are supported by lots of pictures and large fonts, all the way to really advanced readers. They can already read long chapters - with fewer pictures along the way. And at the end there’s always a quiz, to test their understanding of the texts.
Now we’ll tell you how a Ravensburger book is made. It begins on the far left of the picture wall - in the light yellow column. When the editorial team has found a topic that appeals to children, they come up with a first draft - together with an illustrator and an author.
In a column to the right, you can see an illustrator’s research. He gathers impressions and takes plenty of pictures - here for example, at a circus or a fire station.
The next light red column depicts the creation of the book cover. Because this is of great importance, the illustrator often makes a number of sketches - just like you see here. The editors chose the leopard in this instance. The title is also important. It has to relate to the book and appeal to as many people as possible.
Now the illustrator sketches the pages - this is depicted in the green column. When everyone agrees with the design, he begins with the fine-drawing and then he draws it all again in colour.
On to the next column - the blue one. The book author writes the manuscripts to the illustrator’s designs. The editorial team then reads and corrects them, and text and pictures are put together in layout - only now can you really tell if everything appears clearly legible and balanced on the page, or if the text might have to be shortened.
In the lower picture to the right, you can see the proofreader who corrects the last spelling errors before the book goes into print.
This occurs in the 4-colour offset printing, where the colours blue, red, yellow, and black are added to the book pages in separate steps. The book is then cut and bound and then begins its trip into children’s rooms.
In the display cases at the bottom are original drafts - and the finished books, as they were shipped out to the stores.
You can find out which professions were involved in the creation of a book on the wooden wall to the left with the rotatable panels.
And to the right through the door, you get to the Games and Reading Lounge - your audio guide will continue from there.
Having heard so much about Ravensburger games and books, you now get to browse them.
We have put together a shelf with games in English here for you.
Should the weather be nice, you can also go outside into our courtyard on the ground floor where there are countless games, books and jigsaw puzzles.
If you want to experience our games on a larger scale, how about paying us a visit at Ravensburger Spieleland - our theme park, only 15 minutes away by car. Or come to Ravensburger Kinderwelt in Kornwestheim near Stuttgart.
Hope to see you again soon!
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