Knowledge repository on industrial culture:

Transdisciplinary research and teaching - objects of regional industrial culture (RETRIEVAL-ObRIK)

An immense variety of objects with different functions, dimensions and material forms, found in museums and collections maintained by local citizens, bear witness to industrial culture. These contain high concentrations of knowledge from scientific, technical and formal/aesthetic research and development. They also offer evidence of economic and political tendencies, of the emergence and decline of societal needs, and of the collective will to meet these needs by investing large proportions of the sociocultural potential in the work this entails. The traces of production, use and ageing are imprinted on the objects. These objects attest to the origins of the world we live in today, and it is the simultaneous presence of nonverbal information from different periods of time which makes them so fascinating and so moving for many of those who see them. If they are left in their authentic state, they give observers access to the spaces in which contemporary history has taken place – a phenomenon which is seldom consciously perceived.

The project investigates how – using transdisciplinary methods and working with the material facts, the “tangibles” – the nonverbal aspects of the objects, which are more atmospheric than physical, can be scientifically documented and thoroughly explored by the humanities, in all their complex historical and modern levels of meaning. In order to make the source value of the cultural history artefact accessible, empirically collected data such as accurate drawings and maps, 3D visualizations and data from materials analyses are used as the basis for a sequence of insights derived from comparisons with analytically acquired archaeometric data and written sources. This involves the specialist areas of heritage preservation and archaeology, the histories of technology, film, photography and art, natural science and engineering, conservation and restoration science, photography and communication design.
Collaborating partners make their objects available for exemplary research. The main items contributed by the DBM will be breathing apparatus which is significant for the history of mining, in the Museale Sammlungen (Museum Collections) of the montan.dok. The academic outcome will be a published theory and method for the investigation and contextualization of objects relating to industrial history. The findings of the project will be made available in a scholarly and/or popular science form, in a unified format, using expertise from communication technology. They will be distributed and consolidated using a participatory and cross-media approach that integrates actors and recipients in communicative processes, and involves them in the retrieval and transmission of information on the basis of various media channels. A decentralized presentation will follow after the project term

Responsible body

Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin, Studiengang Restaurierung / Prof. Ruth Keller


Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum

(später DFG, BMBF)


Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin, Studiengang Restaurierung (Technisches Kulturgut)

Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Lehrstuhl für Technikgeschichte / Prof. Dr. Helmut Maier


2013 ff.