Hamm is considered a pioneer among the cities of the Ruhr area for the transformation of abandoned businesses in cultural objects. The former Maximilian mine is one of the successful examples of the conversion. There is a huge park on its territory now. Up to 350,000 people visit it annually. Hamm’s main attraction - a huge glass elephant (Der Glaselefant)- is in Maximilianpark.
In 1984, painter and architect Horst Rellecke invented to turn the former coal washing building of the Maximilian mine into the world's largest building-sculpture in the form of an animal. The elephant’s head houses a palm-tree greenhouse. There is also a permanent exhibition of kinetic objects inside the elephant. On the elephant’s back is an observation deck, which offers a beautiful view of Hamm and the surrounding area. An elevator is hidden in the glass trunk to take visitors upstairs and a staircase simulating the "tail" is installed in the back part of the building.
In 2009, when Hamm was honored to conduct the traditional day of North Rhine - Westphalia, the elephant that had seen better days for more than 20 years, was repaired and equipped with electric lighting, with a switching opportunity to white, blue, green, yellow and red colors. Thanks to this the building is particularly impressive in the evening. And during music shows the elephant is used as a giant colour organ.
The Glass elephant is the main but not the only decoration in Maximilianpark. From March to October North Rhine – Westphalia’s biggest garden of tropical butterflies is open here. There are also plenty of opportunities for the recreation of families with children here: the younger guests can enjoy several themed playgrounds designed for different age groups. There are also corners for a quiet holiday, where you can sit in silence and enjoy the lush gardens.