Don’t be afraid of the jaw crusher: it might sound like a violent thug but in reality it is simply a machine for processing quartz, feldspar and china clay. The end result is breakfast dishes. In the European Industrial Museum of China in the Bavarian town of Selb everything revolves around the so-called “white gold” and its fascinating history – from 18th century manufacturing to the present day. A complete range of machinery shows visitors how porcelain body comes into being. Museum workers form, cast, throw and press all sorts and varieties of vessels and objects. Passive infrared sensors set off realistic sounds of work in the old porcelain factories accompanied by vivid film sequences. Visitors can actually walk into an old kiln and find out more about how porcelain was fired; and in the decorating shop they can learn how the products were painted. Finally a display of products from the Rosenthal firm presents exceptionally artistic exhibits. All these attractions can be found on the site of a porcelain factory which was originally built in 1866 and still contains working steam-engines. The most recent development has been the opening of the European Museum of Technical Ceramics containing everything from artificial hip replacements to heat shields used in space shuttles.
On 18th March 1856 Selb experienced a catastrophe: within the space of a few hours the whole town fell victim to a major fire. Just one year later Lorenz Hutschenreuther built the first porcelain works in the small town; this not only made him a pioneer of industrial mass production in this particular branch of industry but also gave Selb a new lease of life as a porcelain centre. Many factories were set up, one of which was built by Jakob Zeidler in 1866. The economy began to flourish. It was only when the Great Depression set in at the end of the 1920s that the local porcelain industry began to suffer. Bankruptcies and mergers were the result. Zeidler’s company had already anticipated this development. As early as 1917 the factory had been taken over by the world famous Rosenthal company which turned out porcelain here for around 50 years before relocating to a more modern plant. The out-of-date factory stood abandoned for a long time until a new stage in its life began in 1990: Europe’s largest industrial museum for porcelain slowly started to take shape. The result of years of preparation can now be seen in the shape of a comprehensive portrait of porcelain manufacture over the last 250 years. Hand-made porcelain is set alongside factory production – deliberately: tradition alongside innovation. The different technical developments throughout Europe are also given their due. The British Isles especially had different methods of manufacture; the sundry types and causes are also taken into account by the museum. And another thing: since 2004 the Rosenthal Museum has been open to visitors. It is housed in the factory’s former kiln house and not only shows the history of the Rosenthal firm but also outstanding exhibits of art and design made from porcelain. In 2005 the range of exhibitions was extended ever further: the European Museum of Technical Ceramics now illuminates the complete range of ceramic productions in industry, science and everyday life: and makes it clear in the process that china is capable of much more than simply decorating festive tables.
|Recommended duration of visit:||2-3 Hours|
|Duration of a guided tour:||90 Minutes|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||For details see website|
|Infrastructure for children:|
|Visitor centre on site:||yes|
|Gift and book shop on site:||yes|
Tuesday to Sunday 10am-5pm