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Technology and Culture 41.3 (2000) 516
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Museums in Central Europe: A Traveler's Introduction
William S. Pretzer
With members of the Society for the History of Technology headed to Munich for their annual meeting this August and to Prague for the meeting of the International Committee for the History of Technology that same month, it seemed appropriate to introduce readers to museums of interest in the region. As with a similar set of essays on British museums published in the January 1996 issue of Technology and Culture, these were commissioned with two goals in mind: to alert readers to museums that can educate and entertain them and to better understand the challenges and commitments facing those museums.
Wolf Peter Fehlhammer and Wilhelm Fuessl introduce the Deutsches Museum in Munich, the host institution for the SHOT annual meeting. With its ambitious plans for expansion of its public venues and deep research activities, this museum is a model of international cooperation and scholarly consultation. Eva A. Mayring, who along with Robert Friedel deserves thanks for coordinating the development of these essays, then provides an introduction to the rich and varied museum community in Munich. Stefan Zeilinger and Michael Hascher broaden the angle of vision to encompass technical museums across Germany, demonstrating along the way the diverse regional and industrial character of that nation. Finally, Louis P. Hutchins widens the approach further by providing some perspective on the changing character of technical museums in Berlin, Prague, and Vienna.
For historians of technology, nothing substitutes for direct access to the authentic artifacts, be they paper documents, iron steam engines, helium-filled airships, or silicon-based microchips. The museums of Germany and Central Europe offer opportunities not to be missed.