What happened at IATM’s Board Meeting in April?

The IATM Board met in person from 7 to 8 April 2024 in Berlin. IATM’s president Joachim Breuninger welcomed the Board Members to the city and the Deutsches Technikmuseum (German Museum of Technology). Peter-Paul de Winter, Secretary of the IATM Board, provides you with a report on two eventful days.

Board Members atop the Deutsches Technikmuseum and underneath a famous “Rosinenbomber” (“candy bomber”), the Douglas C-54, which became a symbol of the Berlin Blockade and subsequent Airlift in 1948 and 1949.

On Sunday, 7 April 2024, a brief tour of the museum rang in the meeting. All departments were viewed, among them the newly-renovated railway department, which is shown in the former locomotive sheds of the Anhalter Bahnhof. The temporary exhibition “Thin Ice” (“Dünnes Eis”) was subsequently visited. A moving interactive exhibition about an expedition to the North Pole. Detailing aspects of everyday live and research on the vessel POLARSTERN in 2019/2020. During the expedition, researches realised that the effects of global warming at the North Pole are dramatic and easily traceable.

Stepping onto “Thin Ice”, the current temporary exhibition at Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin.
Touring the newly opened part of the permanent exhibition “Railroad: Revolution and everyday life” (railroad history from the 1820s to 1914)



Afterwards, the Board meeting took place. We worked hard on the preparations for IATM’s annual conference in Finland. The program was once again critically examined, with the speakers’ proposals assessed for relevance in relation to the theme “Museums in Danger”. As a Board, we believe that the conference will feature a great and challenging programme and will be a conference that you do not want to miss.

The members’ annual general meeting will feature a number of important items such as the election of Board members and the proposed amendment to the articles of the association. They will be addressed and voted upon during the general assembly in Finland.

After the meeting, a freely accessible virtual tour of the former Anhalter Bahnhof, created by the museum, was shown. At the site of the disappeared station, located closely to the museum, QR codes invite anyone to dive into the station’s past. Simply by pointing the phone at a specific location, the screen will show a historic view. “It was impressive to see the steam locomotive ready for departure,” the board members concluded.

The second day in Berlin – study visit to the collections and historic sites

The next morning, the group was scheduled to visit some of the museum’s depots. A true behind the scenes tour: The first item on the programme was a large depot containing a collection of cars and motorcycles, neatly displayed in a museum manner under tarpaulins. An important requirement for this part of the collection is that the objects must tell a story, and they do! There were also representatives of all types of technical equipment and machines, boats, airplanes, railway components, and much more. A highlight was the oldest television from the 1920s. During the tour, it was openly discussed which problems and challenges the museum faces in managing such an enormous collection. This openness provided an opportunity for interesting discussions. They ranged from storage conditions to the critical assessments on the deaccessioning of collections.

Next stop: Berlin Tempelhof. The former airport in the heart of the city is currently being redeveloped. The size of the buildings is staggering and it’s history impressive. The passenger and baggage handling concepts of this former airport have been adopted by all other airports. Additionally, the airport’s role in the Berlin Blockade (24 June 1948 – 12 May 1949) during the Cold War was also literally life-saving. West Berlin was able to survive thanks to the Berlin Airlift from the West. 

We were received by the programme director of the airport and the first restored part of the station building was proudly presented to us. Furthermore, he introduced us to the specific challenges of this enormous, but promising project. Moreover, the building houses three aircrafts from the collection of the Deutsches Technikmuseum. A group of volunteers is restoring these machines. They have been working on the reconstruction of a Focke-Wulf Fw Condor aircraft for 28 years. It was a special treat and very impressive to speak to these passionate people.

This concluded our Board meeting. We bid our farewells and returned home inspired and full of ideas. A special word of thanks to Museum Director and IATM president Joachim Breuninger, and Stefanie Rother, who wonderfully prepared these two days and ensured a smooth experience.

Written by Peter-Paul de Winter, Secretary IATM Board
Edited by Stephen Quick and Anne-Sophie Gutsche