More than the sum of individual experience
The company museumstechnik GmbH was founded in 1986 by an interdisciplinary team of architects, designers and craftsmen in Berlin’s Schöneberg district. In the traditional structures of a work federation, the young company took on the ever more complex challenges of exhibit design and production. Close collaboration of design and technical competence in combined offices and workshops still remains the basis for the company’s successful work in the highly diverse areas of art and cultural artefact presentation.
In the first years after its founding, museumstechnik mainly implemented large special exhibits. The principle of scenographic exhibition, which had its origins during this time, was associated with completely new challenges for building exhibits. The exhibit concepts, which were often based on stage and scenery construction, required capabilities that went far beyond conventional interior construction. Experience, competence and a diverse array of qualifications on the part of planners, design engineers and skilled craftsmen quickly made the company into a leading provider for the development and implementation of such concepts. During this time, various exhibits were created – primarily in Berlin – but also in other locations throughout Germany:
The ‘Treasures from the Topkapi Serail’ exhibit, which was realised in the Orangery in Charlottenburg Palace in 1988, can be considered an early highlight of the company history. It is still today regarded as a groundbreaking exhibit of this era. The ‘blue globe lights’ produced by us were a defining component of the design of this exhibit.
At the end of the 80s, museumstechnik berlin developed the tubular steel furniture system now known as System 180. In conjunction with the managing director at the time, Sybille Fanelsa, in 1991 it established the company of the same name, System 180 GmbH. This continually improving and evolving modular furniture system is still exclusively produced in Berlin-Schöneberg and is now sold around the world.
The ‘American Art in the 20th Century’ exhibit built in 1993 in the Martin-Gropius-Bau can be considered another early high point of the company history. With the help of a steel and glass construction produced by us, the atrium of the building was converted into an impressive painting gallery. This exhibit is still remembered, and not just because of the unique artwork. Since the mid-1990s, spaces and buildings not originally conceived for exhibits have increasingly been used as settings. This is a trend associated with completely new opportunities and challenges for those involved. With flexibility and openness to new ideas, museumstechnik was also able to establish itself in this field as a known entity in the implementation of unusual exhibition concepts.
Both the exhibit ‘Fire & Flame’ from 1994, which involved the conversion of the Gasometer in Oberhausen into a total work of art within the scope of the exhibition on ‘200 Years of Industrial History of the Ruhr Region’, and the cable railway built just for the ‘Sun, Moon and Stars’ exhibition in 1999 are great examples of this capability.
The ‘Energised’ exhibit, which was also built in 1999 and set up in the combustion chambers and turbine building of the Elbe Coal-Fired Power Plant in Vockerode, the ‘Chemidrome’, which was erected within the scope of the Expo 2000 in an exhibition hall in Hanover, or the conversion of four barges for the ‘Waterfalls. On the Rhine and Maas’ exhibit shown at the Media Harbour Düsseldorf are also worth mentioning.
museumstechnik has constantly maintained its enthusiasm for stagings and scenography. The previously mentioned challenge of presenting precious cultural artefacts in decommissioned industrial plants also means that the production of display cases and exhibit installations for long-term use has become more and more important. In contrast to stagings that are often planned for time periods from three to six months at most, the focus here is on the durability of the products and preventative conservation of exhibits. Many of the previously used designs and construction principles needed to be reviewed for suitability against this backdrop. museumstechnik-produced installations in museums of international renown in the years that followed provide evidence of the successes achieved in the technically advanced further development of these products:
The furnishing of Berlin’s ‘New Museum’, opened in 2009, in collaboration with David Chipperfield Architects and the Milan designer and architect Michele de Lucci, and the setup of the Islamic section of the ‘Ethnological Museum’ and the ‘Museum of European Cultures’ in the newly renovated Bruno-Paul-Bau in Berlin’s Dahlem district should be mentioned here.
The recognition and reputation of the work carried out by museumstechnik resulted in new challenges inside and outside of Germany:
In 2001, for example, the company manufactured and installed the premium-quality exhibition furniture for the ‘Hepworth Wakefield’ in Wakefield, England.
In the same year, planning and development began for the construction and installation of some 250 special display cases with extremely high conservational and design requirements for the ‘Museo Archeológico Nacional’ in Madrid. All of these tasks at no point kept museumstechnik from losing sight of smaller but no less challenging tasks. Stagings in public space, temporary art installations, structures in public areas, and work for Berlin galleries and artists have been a part of the service portfolio of museumstechnik since the company was founded.