Behind the Scenes
10,000 exhibits across an exhibition area of 22,000 m² offer plenty of surfaces for dust to settle. Cleaning requires not only great care when handling the historical objects, but also some spirit of adventure.
Dust particles constantly enter the museum from the busy surroundings through poorly sealed windows and open doors. Staff members and visitors also bring dirt from the street into the museum. They leave skin particles and hairs behind and raise existing dust as they walk through the museum. At the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Museum of Science and Technology), many exhibits are displayed without a protective showcase. Aside from the fact that it would be quite difficult to put a “Steinbrück” locomotive or a helicopter in a glass case, visitors are thereby given the opportunity to directly experience and view many objects up close.

However, showing the exhibits openly also involves some drawbacks. Depending on the material the object is made of, acidic, alkaline and hygroscopic dust can do a lot of damage, such as causing metallic objects to corrode. The machines and devices of metal as well as exhibits of wood, textile and plastic showcased at the Technisches Museum therefore need to be checked and dusted on a regular basis.

Museum staff are busy all year cleaning the displayed objects. This is not an easy task, given that many objects are more than 10 metres high or are suspended from the ceiling at a height of 15 metres. The staff are trained in preventive conservation. Apart from taking great care while handling the historical exhibits, they also need some spirit of adventure, for example when it comes to manoeuvring the articulating boom lift to reach large-scale objects.

While cleaning the objects, their general condition is examined as well. If any damage is detected, the Restoration Department is notified to take the necessary stabilisation measures.