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Raw materials history – oil from private archives

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‘Raw Materials History’ is a project which, together with contemporary witnesses, explores the history of fossil fuels in the Vienna Basin. The history of the technologies and the everyday lives involved is to be made tangible across the generations using period photographs which, until now, have been collected privately. A digital database is to make private and local knowledge available to a broader general public. A media station in the new Oil & Natural Gas exhibition space at the Technisches Museum will provide insights into the database as it is being compiled.

The collection began with little more than a shoebox full of old black-and-white prints. Today, several years later, this initial stock of around 200 shoebox photographs is the basis of a digital collection on the history of technology that currently comprises more than 8,000 documents, from photographs to written documents, film footage, glass slides, entire albums and notebooks, letters, postcards, and lots more.

For the research team it is important that the history of the natural resources in the Vienna Basin be explored as part of a participatory process, i.e. jointly with contemporary witnesses from the region. Invaluable historical testimonies have been gathered through discussions at history workshops in Zistersdorf and Matzen, in Prottes, Vienna and Baden – wherever knowledge about oil is stored in unofficial archives and the memories of the people themselves.
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