Vienna Technical Museum
Channeling the visitor's gaze
Mineral oil and natural gas play an important part in almost all aspects of life – reason enough for Vienna Technical Museum to dedicate exhibition space to this subject. On show are HFI-welded steel pipes from Salzgitter Mannesmann Line Pipe – not for transporting resources, but for channeling the visitor's gaze.
As the starting material for plastics, fertilizers and pharmaceuticals, for heating or for the generation of power, mineral oil and natural gas are part and parcel of modern life. Our transport systems, be they on water, overland or in the air, depend almost entirely on these fossil fuels. At the same time, mineral oil is also one of the world's most controversial resources – from the environmental, economic and political points of view.
Partner wanted for prestigious project
At the beginning of July 2014, Vienna Technical Museum started looking for pipes for the newly planned exhibition devoted to mineral oil and natural gas. "We at Salzgitter Mannesmann Line Pipe knew immediately that we wanted to be the partner for this prestigious project and contribute to the success of the exhibition," explains Thorsten Schmidt, co-responsible for the project at Salzgitter Mannesmann Line Pipe. "Together with Austrian elbow manufacturer Erne Fittings, we supplied pipes and elbows free of charge," he adds, continuing: "For this project, we were also faced with a deadline that was almost impossible to meet." Because there was only little time left until the opening of the exhibition on October 10, 2014.
During a visit on site arranged at short notice, they decided together with the exhibition organizers to coat the pipes with clearcoat so that they wouldn't lose their characteristic steel appearance. And this increased the deadline pressure still further. "Our coating facilities are of course not at all suitable for handling such minute quantities," says Schmidt. "The exhibits were processed almost entirely by hand, so they literally passed through several hands. In the exhibition, it was immediately obvious that the effort and elaborate manual labor had been worth it," says Schmidt, who, along with others involved in the project, attended the official opening of the exhibition in October 2014.
Tangible and accessible exhibition
On the basis of six selected sample locations, the roughly 250 m² exhibition space belonging to the permanent "Energy" exhibition shows the interplay between mineral oil, natural gas, mankind, the environment and technology. This exciting world is made tangible and accessible by the exhibition. Standing on-end, the line pipes are not only characteristic design elements, but also "graspable" objects that channel the visitor's gaze. A double floor allows visitors to look below ground – inspection windows remind them that the production, transport and processing of mineral oil and natural gas take place to a large extent underground. The interactive exhibits of the show invite museum-goers to handle crude oils and give them a personal feel for the subject-matter.