Collection area: Production Technology

This area covers the artisanal and industrial production technology used in agriculture and forestry, wood and metal processing, textile manufacture, the production of foodstuffs and luxury foods, glass, ceramics and the chemical industry, as well as the paper industry. With almost one half of all the objects and a series of special historical collections, it characterises the profile of the museum to a large extent. In the future, the area will increasingly focus on the documentation of new materials.

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Chemical Production Engineering
  • FA-122492

    Cerium oxide sample, 1958

    Neodymium, praseodymium, lutetium, cerium: What sounds like a series of spells cast by a popular boy wizard is in fact a group of highly sought-after natural resources know as ‘rare earths’.

  • FA-116546

    Display case: Phosphorus necrosis of the jaw, c 1895

    ‘Those in darkness drop from sight’: the manufacture of phosphorus matchsticks caused horrendous upper jaw pathologies among many employees, not to mention severe pain. Some even died of it.

  • FA-116611

    Dust samples from trade and industry, c. 1900

    Collated, labelled, and examined: these dust samples from many industrial trades seem harmless enough, contained as they are on their little glass plates. But in a person’s lungs, it’s a different story.

  • FA-114922

    Model of a domestic soap factory, c 1935

    ‘Soap is a measure of the affluence and civilisation of states’ – that was the view expressed by German chemist Justus von Liebig in 1844 in his popular Chemische Briefe [Letters on Chemistry]

  • FA-116660

    Model of a lubricant distillation plant, 1916

    It’s rarely a thing of beauty to behold, has no haptic qualities, and often causes a bit of a stink. And yet, would the industrial revolution have been able to occur at all without the seemingly insignificant lubricant?

  • FA-122577

    Model of a platform facility for refining petrol, 1959

    This model illustrates the huge boom in the petrochemical industry in the 20th century. The original was designed for a capacity of 350,000 tonnes a year.

  • FA - 80598/1

    Sample board with rubber goods, early 20th century

    Tyres, batons and condoms – these are all products made from the ‘tree that weeps’. For almost 200 years now, rubber and caoutchouc as a natural substance have played a crucial role in technology, the economy, and our everyday lives.

  • FA-112914

    The "Nönnchen", apothecary flask, 1700-1750

    How rude! These pear-shaped apothecary flasks were called Nönnchen, or little nuns, alluding to the visual association between convent mishaps and the ‘pregnant’ bottle shape.

Glass and Ceramics
  • FA-123715

    Cup shapes displaying glazing techniques, Vienna, 1929

    In simple terms, stoneware is actually ‘ware’ that is made from stoneware clay and is non-porous, i.e. impermeable to water. By contrast, earthenware is actually pottery that is porous, i.e. permeable to water, and has to be glazed to make it watertight. And glazing is what this article is all about.

  • FA-114219

    Double-headed eagle made of glass beads and glass pins, Bohemia, 1845

    Most people are familiar with the emblem of the double-headed eagle. In central Europe it is often equated with the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy. And yet the double-headed eagle was not invented by the Habsburgs.

  • FA-114033

    Foot warmer, stoneware, England, 1853

    Anyone in England who happened to own a foot warmer by Doulton & Watts around 1850 could certainly count themselves lucky. With their distinctive snout-shaped handle these stoneware hot water bottles were sometimes referred to as ‘pigs’.

  • FA-124250_Glasgravurmaschine

    Glass engraving machine with accessories, c. 1850

    Six generations were dedicated to the craft of glass engraving. That dynasty’s last master engraver finally closed her Viennese shop in 2010, after 46 years, and her long-serving machine became fit for a museum.

  • FA-113467

    Kothgasser rimmed beaker, Vienna, 1839

    ‘Kothgasser glasses’ – In his day Anton Kothgasser (1769-1851) was the best known Viennese painter of transparent-enamelled glass. It was he who made these small masterpieces of the Biedermeier period world-famous – and sought-after collector’s items.

  • FA-122988

    Model of a glass grinding shop, early 20th century

    ‘All grinding wheels stand still if that’s the transmission’s will!’ That, certainly, was the motto when all machinery was still belt-driven from a central location, prior to the invention of the electrically-powered individual drive.

  • FA-123794

    Model of a glassworks (hand-blown glassworks), 1893

    Working at a glass furnace requires team spirit, strength, skill, experience, and a good pair of lungs. That’s what it takes to tame and mould temperamental material into the most delicate of shapes.

  • FA-118706

    Perfume bottles, Bohemia, Paris, London, 1841-1853

    Perfume, that precious volatile essence, deserves a receptacle that befits its contents. No wonder, then, that these receptacles have themselves often been, and still are, precious.

  • FA-113368

    Pot with lid, jasperware, England, 1819

    Five years of hard work and almost 10,000 experiments went into creating the most beautiful invention by ceramic pioneer Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795): coloured jasperware, predominantly blue in colour, with applied white relief decoration.

  • FA-111829

    Sample board: Set glass jewellery, Bohemia, c 1837

    Real or make-believe; genuine or fake – that is the question here. People adorn themselves not just with fake hair or false teeth, but also with fake jewellery – in this instance, made of glass.

  • FA-124169

    Binderschlägel, um 1750

    The depiction on the mallet illustrates its function: a cooper is shown using the mallet and a flattener to hammer barrel hoops into place. Depicted on the reverse side are a pope and a saint – might the barrel have contained communion wine?

  • FA-116708

    Box with tools, c 1910

    Tools from several countries, harmoniously contained within a confined space, represented different cultures of craftsmanship as well as diverging paths towards industrialisation.

  • FA-124171

    Carpenter’s plane, early 18th century

    A king’s head for a handle: whenever the craftsman applied his plane, he would necessarily close his fist around the monarch’s head and neck to achieve a stable planing action. An instance of lèse-majesté perhaps?

  • FA-124159

    Collection of wood samples in book form (‘xylotheque’), c 1845

    Books are made of paper, and paper somehow consists of wood. But when samples of wood are disguised as a book, it’s not a biblio-que, but a xylo-theque.

  • FA-123535

    Craftsman’s lathe for Tsar Nicholas of Russia, 19th century

    The ruling classes rule, and do not engage in physical labour. Or do they? This object might be proof to the contrary. Unfortunately, apart from its designation, the object’s actual provenance is very poorly documented.

  • FA-123704

    Veneering circular saw, 1816

    Almost six metres long and more than three metres tall: it’s a woodworking behemoth and an important reminder of the high standard of Viennese furniture making during the Biedermeier period.

  • FA-123572

    Anger Twin Screw Extruder, 1959/60

    Don’t be fooled! Although this may look like some sort of a ‘handbag’, it actually measures no less than 270 x 110 x 200 cm – and it’s used to process plastics. So what we have here is the rear view of an extruder.

  • FA-122540

    Cassette with garments made of celluloid, 1917

    Forget the laundry – just wash it off! In the late 19th century the invention of the synthetic material known as celluloid meant it was now possible to imitate fine, expensive linen, with the prospects of white collars, cuffs and shirt fronts at any time!

  • FA-123214

    Sample boards: origins of Galalith and products made from Galalith, 1900-1950

    Buttons made from milk? That’s right! Before the invention of the fully synthetic plastic material made from mineral oil, another invention became all the rage: the semi-synthetic plastic material made from casein, a milk protein.

  • FA-123396

    Shellac sample case, London, post-1939

    It takes around 300,000 kerria lacca scale insects working around the clock to produce one kilo of shellac. And not just for the round black discs that make music. Shellac can do a lot more.

Agriculture and Forestry

  • FA-123746

    Bust with prosthetic arm, 1914-1917

    Mechanical artificial limbs as a consequence of mechanised warfare: between 1914 and 1918 prostheses were also shown at exhibitions. Their manufacture required co-operation between qualified experts.

  • FA-108341

    Guilloché machine, 1835

    A cross between a tool and a machine, and it’s a joy to look at: admiring such a piece of apparatus, who could possibly claim that beauty and functionality are mutually exclusive?

  • FA-104179

    Lathe with wooden flywheel, c 1840

    Stylish and pre-industrial: this antiquated piece of equipment still required a workmate to set it into motion. And, with the exception of a few parts, it is made entirely of wood.

  • FA-123659

    Model of a hot-dip galvanizing plant, 1991

    One of the plainer models on show at the Technisches Museum Wien, made by the VÖEST modelling workshop. The original plant is said to have galvanised 210,000 tonnes of sheet steel a year.

  • FA-104083

    Model of a sheet rolling mill, c 1800

    Aircraft, cars, ships, bridges, machinery and appliances – nowadays rolled sheet metal is manufactured in vast surface areas. Untreated or coated, and in all sorts of shapes and sizes, it defines the world we live in.

  • FA-114444

    Padlock with lock puzzle, first half of the 19th century

    Keys for chamberlains, widowers and caskets, amulet locks for warding off evil: locking mechanisms feature both a low-key technological aspect and elaborate symbolism.

  • FA-115358

    Samurai sword, possibly 12th century

    A mythically ancient weapon? A sword for a Japanese Samurai, crafted in Sho-shin Province, potentially some 800 years old? Its maker has not yet been identified, and its dating has not been clarified with any certainty either.

  • Sauschneidermesser_1


    Unfortunately this article is only available in German.

  • FA-114850

    Sugar bowl with lid, decorative cast iron, 1821

    Innovations in technology gave rise to decorative cast iron, ‘the iron and steel industry’s most beautiful offshoot’. It reached its heyday in the first half of the 19th century, when it enjoyed a veritable boom.

Food, Beverages and Tobacco
  • FA-123641

    Bread roll notching machine, Ringl Patent, c 1930

    The Kaisersemmel is a type of bread roll that translates literally as ‘imperial bread roll’ – but where does this name actually come from? From a Viennese baker called Kayser? Or is it the ultimate accolade for the best of the best? Or is it derived from the Italian a la casa, as the speciality of the house?

  • FA-124595

    Cube bars, sugar, 1st half of the 20th century

    Picture the scene: the Moravian town of Dačice (in what is now the Czech Republic) in the early 1840s, and Juliana Rad has just injured herself trying to break off pieces of sugar. What was in itself an unremarkable incident is widely regarded as the hour of birth of the sugar cube.

  • Erzeugnisse der Kartoffeltrocknung

    Erzeugnisse der Kartoffeltrocknung

    Unfortunately this article is only available in German.

  • FA-123908_Zigarettenfabrik

    Model of a cigarette factory, 1925-1930

    Tobacco satisfies all kinds of needs, whether it’s taken as snuff, smoked, or chewed. The soaring commercial success of cigarettes began in the late 19th century.

  • FA-118066

    Model of a confectioner’s workshop, 1935

    Mmmh – how mouth-watering is this: doughnuts, croissants, Guglhupf, Cremeschnitten [cream slices], chocolate torte, hazelnut pastries, poppyseed cake, confectionery – and it’s the confectioner that makes them all. And lots more besides.

  • FA-123550

    Model of a steam brewhouse, 1959

    The brewhouse is the heart of any brewery. Here the brew is not quite yet beer, but this is where the wort it needs for its fermentation is added. Hops and malt are not lost here. On the contrary.

  • FA-118051

    Model of the Vienna Dairy, 1906/1907

    Incredible! This stunning model on a scale of 1:12 (approx. 5.6 x 1.9 x 1.5 m) was made in 1906/07 by the employees of the Vienna Dairy – as a miniature of their workplace established in 1901.

  • FA-123465

    Snuff tobacco flacons, early 20th century

    Tobacco was first introduced into Europe following the ‘discovery’ of America. And even though tobacco has been fought against time and time again and condemned for its effects, its use became widespread.

  • FA-123750

    Tonking No 1 rice, Vietnam, first half of the 20th century

    The Commodity Science Collection at the Technisches Museum Wien comprises more than fifty different varieties of rice, underscoring the significance and diversity of one of the world’s most important food staples.

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    Board with raw materials for paper, c 1910

    Peat fibres, pine cones, vines, nettles – vast is the array of potential raw materials used in papermaking. Over time, many have been tried and tested and then rejected.

  • FA-124174

    Model of a paper mill, c 1910

    Hydraulic power for stamping the raw materials, a vat for making the paper, a press for extracting the water: these were all the fundamentals of paper-making in the pre-industrial age. And that’s how vividly descriptive technology can be.

  • FA-123365

    Packing papers, 1820

    Paper made from old rags can be kept for centuries. Usually, it is the more attractive samples that find their way into museums; more rarely so for simple packing papers. Does this paper contain unusual substances?

  • FA-123648

    Sample board with pressed and printed papers, 1828

    Bright vibrant colours and stark patterns are not what you immediately associate with the more restrained style of the Biedermeier period. Papers and wallpapers by Spörlin & Rahn highlight the fondness for the experimental of many manufacturers of furnishings for the comfort of the home.

  • FA-123547

    Sleeking hammer for handmade paper, 19th century

    Writing on paper, cutting it to size, tearing it up – why not? But hammering it? Handmade paper was often characterised by unevenness, which had to be eliminated by different means.

  • FA-122478

    Two-part screen for genuine handmade paper, 19th century.

    This screen for making paper by hand was apparently in use right up until 1904. The watermark was incorporated into the sheets of handmade paper as the manufacturer’s mark of quality.

Textiles and Clothing
  • FA-123467

    Book of samples with Japanese silk fabrics, 1st half of the 20th century

    A beautiful death: silkworms use their salivary glands to produce precious silk fibres and then pupate inside the cocoons formed as a result. But before they are allowed to hatch, the silkworms are boiled in hot water or steamed inside the cocoons.

  • FA-121694

    Book of samples with uniform fabrics for the British Army, 1901-1902

    Stand out or be camouflaged? For a long time soldiers were made to wear brightly coloured uniforms, but it was only in the late 19th century that there was a gradual transition to ‘military grey’ and ‘khaki’.

  • FA-122455

    Clothier’s ‘horse chair’ with carding machine, c. 1780

    Some items of furniture have fallen victim to the changes in labour since industrialisation first began; they include the standing desk for writing and doing calculations, or the ‘horse chair’ for trade-based activities.

  • FA-123731

    Mechanical weaving loom, c 1910

    ‘With not a tear in their sad eyes, / they sit at the loom and grind their teeth’ – such is the drastic description Heinrich Heine gives of the miserable situation of hand loom weavers in Silesia in 1844.

  • FA-123733

    Model of a ‘Banyai’ carpet knotting machine, 1900-1930

    Little is known about the machine’s inventor. Dr Maurus Banyai was the leader of a synagogue in Vienna’s 13th District that was burnt down during the November pogrom in 1938.

  • FA-113485

    Nähhand [sewing hand], Josef Madersperger, c 1830

    A typically Austrian inventor and his fate: gifted yet impoverished, unheeded or wronged, yet tenacious in his endeavours, and ultimately buried in a grave without ceremony and forgotten after his death.

  • FA-123585

    Replica of a spinning jenny, c 1997

    The recent replica of an ancient machine, invented in the homeland of the industrial revolution. By 1788 there were around 20,000 such jennies operating in homes in England and Scotland.

  • FA-115584

    Sample board with printed cambrics, 1835

    Samovars, boots made of Russia leather, Easter eggs in the style of Fabergé: most of us know very little about the world of historical Russian products. That also goes for fine and ‘typical’ textiles.

  • FA-116589

    Thumbnail guard, late 19th century

    Industrialised working environments concealed a whole range of new hazards, with steam boilers exploding, acids eating through bodies, and drive belts ripping off limbs. Even smaller inconveniences could take their toll.

  • FA-123751

    Woman’s fez hat, early 20th century

    Top hats, berets, veils – head coverings always evoke associations and emotions. They represent a mentality or economic approach, culture or religion, uniformity or diversity.

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