Exhibit B: Historic views at IATM’s members

Part 2 of our article series detailing what exhibitions to see and expect at our member institutions. Art, architecture, photography and design are all part of transport and communication museums’ DNA. We’d like to give you an idea of what that entails.

All aboard – riding by bike or train?

Two new exhibitions take you from the bicycle’s beginnings in 1900 to the last breaths of big steam enginges. How did the bicycles advertising in France reflect societal views on gender, technology, and design? Find answers at Berlin’s German Technical Museum.

Freedom on two wheels. The bicycle on French posters around 1900 (opening 24 April 2024)

Image: Poster from c. 1900, SDTB, Historical Archive

Free, independent and modern: The bicycle promised this since of life in France’s “Belle Époque” and that is how it was widely advertised. Lithographic posters served as advertising media. Today, these are extraordinary works of art. They offer unique insights into the understanding of technology and culture at the time. Around 1900, women in particular took center stage on these posters as advertising ambassadors – in very different ways.

From April 24, the German Museum of Technology will be showing over 40 large-format bicycle posters from its collection. The exhibition tells of a time when the bicycle as a modern means of transportation and the poster as a new advertising medium entered into a symbiosis. This burst of creativity is still fascinating today. The posters are a mirror of social ideals and world views around 1900. They show a spectrum of gender roles, technology and culture typical of the time.

Take a bicycle ride!

While the bicycle is being welcome once again, the world is bidding farewell to its steam engines. Preserved in photographs, the Danish Railway Museum in Odense, Denmark takes you on a last ride.

The Hunt for the Last Steam (Until September 2024)

The Danish photographer René Strandbygaard has travelled the world for many years, photographing the last steam trains in regular use. In search of pockets of time and environments that were just a few years, months or even weeks away from disappearing.

Image: View of the exhibition at the Danish Railway Museum

The photographs in the exhibition are some of the most spectacular and evocative images in René Strandbygaard’s collection. Each series of photos is an amazing story of communities, railway environments and forms of governance that have been consigned to history. Most of his travels took place in the 1990s, before publicly available internet and mobile phones, so he never knew quite what to expect. When he heard about a track still in existence, he packed his camera and set off. His travels took him far and wide – from Europe to India, China, Eritrea, Indonesia and countless other places.

“I thought once again that I should spend all my money and my last days of holiday on a plane ticket halfway around the world to chase the ghosts of the past for a week or two. Not holidays but expeditions; train journeys into the unknown on too little sleep, basic forms of transport and an upset stomach. With my eyes wide open, in search of colours, sounds and moods. Deep in the countryside in the far corners of the world.” 

René Strandbygaard, 2023.

Go on a hunt…

From the last decade we travel over 300 years back in time and to the Czech Republic. That’s where Jan Santini Aichel developed his unique style of Baroque Gothic in architecture.

SANTINI and his World of Architecture (Until 5 January 2025)

The exhibition is dedicated to the exceptional baroque architect, and author of the Baroque gothic, Jan Santini Aichel. On the occasion of the 300th anniversary of his death, “SANTINI and his

Images: Czech National Technical Museum

World of Architecture” at the Czech National Technical Museum (Prague, Czech Republic) looks at his concepts, and work. With an immersive scenography and story-telling, you are invited into his thinking.

Dive into the world of architecture!

Architectural sites not only tell of artists and great minds, but also of history and global developments. Some of these sights may seem hidden to us today. Time to unveil them to you, decided the National Museum of Scotland for a very specific period of time. With over 190 objects all providing a sight on culture, physical remains and history.

Cold War Scotland (13 July 2024 to 26 January 2025)

A new exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland (Edinburgh, Scotland) will explore Scotland’s critical position on the frontline of the Cold War. Over 190 objects will be brought together to tell the stories of the Scots at the centre of this 40-year nuclear stand-off between the USA and the Soviet Union following the end of the Second World War. 

Scotland’s unique geography and topography provided a useful base for Allied military preparations and research during the Cold War. Atomic power brought jobs and investment to some of the country’s most remote areas, but as global tensions mounted the threat of attack or nuclear disaster became part of everyday life.  The exhibition explores both the visible and invisible legacies of the war in Scotland. 

“From nuclear submarines to lively peace protests and observation stations perpetually monitoring for devastating attack, the Cold War permeated every aspect of life in Scotland for decades. This conflict is so often remembered on a global scale, but this thought-provoking exhibition will offer a Scottish perspective of the period, allowing Scots from all walks of life to tell their remarkable stories for the first time.” 

Dr Meredith Greiling, Principal Curator of Technology at National Museums Scotland

The impact of the war still lingers in Scottish politics, culture and memory. Scots played an active role in the global conflict as soldiers, for example, within intelligence services and as part of voluntary civil defences. The exhibition will also draw on Scotland’s rich history of Cold War-era protest and activism. In addition, physical remains such as ruined bases, forgotten bunkers and decommissioned nuclear power stations still evident across the Scottish landscape, will be revealed to visitors.

Find out more.

Inspiring your work

If an exhibition sparked your interest or you are working on a similar topic, we’ll happily connect you. Museums in over 30 countries are represented within the International Association of Transport and Communications Museums. They share similar topics and can be extremely different in their approach. We want to provide you with a sense of the current topics and approaches in the institutions.

The next article focusing on the Dresden Transport Museum (Germany) will be shared on 1 March 2024.
Find the previous article here.