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Operation Lilienthal

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Project description

Since 1904, Otto Lilienthal’s monoplane glider in the Deutsches Museum has been fascinating visitors and researchers alike. However, this silent witness of the first steps towards human flight is in a very fragile condition today. It can only be preserved through the cooperation of conservation science, the workshops and the curators. We are dealing with questions about the history of the glider during flight tests and in the museum, analysing the original materials, but also repairing and discussing methods for cleaning and stabilization. The design of the new showcase will be a particular challenge.

Further project description

Interdisciplinary approach

The composition of the team results from the questions in the project. On the the conservation side, specialists for textiles, wood and metal develop the treatment concept. In the process, the closely related materials should neither be examined in isolation from one another nor restored separately. The historical and technical significance of each individual component in itself and for the glider as a whole will be discussed with the curator for historical aviation, but also with experts outside the Deutsches Museum.

The studio in the Flugwerft Schleissheim airfield museum

The research and conservation of the glider extends over a longer period of time. Therefore, the object has to be kept in a room with safe ambient conditions: air conditioning units regulate the humidity and temperature, UV protective film and shading on the windows protect against light, and pest monitoring takes place on a regular basis. The glider itself lies on a base made of chemically stable materials. Comparable conservation requirements for the protection of objects are also planned for the future exhibition “Historical Aviation up to 1918”.




  • 18.10.2021, Artefacts Meeting, Across the Atlantic: The Conservation of Two Original Gliders by Otto Lilienthal, Charlotte Holzer (Deutsches Museum) and Deborah Duerbeck Parr (National Air and Space Museum),
  • München, DM Flugwerft Schleißheim, digitales Expertentreffen, 23.10.2020: Operation Lilienthal. Restaurierung des Normal-Segelapparats von Otto Lilienthal (1894) (Charlotte Holzer, Andreas Hempfer, Quirin Küchle, Mathias Winkler).
  • Anklam, Otto-Lilienthal-Museum, Festveranstaltung für Dr. Bernd Lukasch, 6.12.2019: Der Normal-Segelapparat von Otto Lilienthal. Konservierung und neues Ausstellungskonzept (Charlotte Holzer)


  • Stoessel, Rainer; Donner, Teresa; Mosch, Michael; Pamplona, Marisa; Hempfer, Andreas; Kiefel, Denis; Grosse, Christian: Computed Tomography Testing at Remains of a Glider from Otto Lilienthal, in: 8th Conference on Industrial Computed Tomography, http://www.ndt.net/?id=21909, Wels 2018, S. 1–6.

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