Rembrandt on the Forklift

Originally published on March 25, 2015, in German on the TECHNOblog of the TECHNOSEUM

The forklift is indispensible in our storage facility. TECHNOSEUM, picture Bernd Kießling

The forklift is indispensible in our storage facility. TECHNOSEUM, picture Bernd Kießling

Admittedly, when colleagues from art museums take in collections, you could go green with envy. Rembrandt, Goya, Cranach… While our AEG K2 Magnetophon is rarer than a Blue Mauritius, there aren’t many people who get really excited about it. And whether the Mona Lisa or our “Eschenau” steam locomotive brings a gleam to more children’s eyes is debatable. Technology fans must confess, though, that the names of technical devices are often short on glamour.

From Berlin to Mannheim

The delivery of the objects from the Deutsche Rundfunk (German Broadcasting) archives has made up for some of that. In recent weeks, we unloaded about 1,500 devices from the former German Broadcasting Museum from various trucks and moved them to our collections storage facility. Of course we had to confirm that everything that came from Berlin had safely made it to Mannheim. During the verification process, we suddenly felt a little like our colleagues at the art museums—or maybe more like tour operators and recording officials.

A Rembrandt of Our Own

Our colleagues in the storage facility know exactly where each television is located. TECHNOSEUM, picture Bernd Kießling

Our colleagues in the storage facility know exactly where each television is located 1 TECHNOSEUM, picture Bernd Kießling.

Sachsenwerk and Rafena in Radeberg gave their television sets artistic names such as Rembrandt, Dürer, and Cranach. Philips, on the other hand, stuck with cryptic designations like “23TD321A,” but their nicknames read like a “Who’s Who?” of art history: Raffael, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Tizian, Bellini, Goya, and another Rembrandt, though this one from 1962. Blaupunkt imagined itself in southern vacation paradises, with names like “Toskana” (Tuscany) and “Sevilla” (Seville). Graetz went all noble with “Landgraf” (Landgrave) and “Markgraf” (Margrave). Nordmende sent a “Diplomat” into the field, Philips a “Mediator,” and the marketing team at Loewe even decided on an “Optimat.” VEB Fernsehgerätewerke Staßfurt (Stassfurt Television Works) struck out on a different path, where Ines, Marion, and Sibylle provide good sound and picture quality. And if they don’t, who could seriously hold it against an appliance with such a pretty name?

Those of us in the Collections Department cannot allow ourselves to be taken in by the fancy names, however. In the upcoming months, our task will be to examine, sort, and register the collection. Then we’ll have to pack the objects in such a way manner that they come to no harm for the next few decades yet are still available at any time: the “Zauberspiegel” (Magic Mirror) as well as the “Bildmeister” (Image Master), “Lady,” and her “Kornett” (Cornet)—and a “Rembrandt” or two, of course.

Angela Kipp

Translated from German into English by Cindy Opitz.

  1. Disclaimer: Neither I nor the other colleagues are responsible for the stacking of up to three TV sets, the paletts arrived that way. We put it in order immediately.
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