A museum of metallurgy has been created in a building dating 1895, that belongs to an ironworks in Chorzow (Silesia, Poland). This location is not accidental, as there was a Royal Ironworks Power Station in this building in the past – this makes the exhibition even more authentic, as a visitor can experience how real ironworks buildings used to look like. Whilst designing AV systems for the exposition in the Metallurgy Museum, it was very important to maintain the character of the building and to make original brickworks and vintage windows visible to the visitors. Historical architecture creates a unique atmosphere, and it was our job to keep it in the museum. Our challenge was to present the dynamism and power of the processes taking place in the Ironworks in such a way, that the visitor can feel as one of the employees of this establishment. In addition, this exhibition needed to be suitable for visitors with disabilities such as hearing impairment.
Permanent exhibition in the Metallurgy Museum in Chorzow is divided into the following subject zones:
A visitor starts their adventure from an introduction to metallurgy factories: Royal Ironworks/Kosciuszko Ironworks/Königshutte & Batory Ironwork/Bismarckhütte Ironworks and a history of the city of Chorzow – especially the periods dedicated to the industrial development.
The Introduction Zone is located near the reception space in the museum lobby. A 75’’multimedia display screen installed as an interactive table is the central element of this area. It presents maps with local ironworks and information about their history. Visitors can gain knowledge from 40’’ wall-mounted touch screens with headphones. At the interactive station, a visitor can see a large collection of iconography and historical films.
When entering the main exhibition space, a visitor walks into a Life Zone and can see unique showpieces. The focal point of the station dedicated to design, is an original drawing board with an authentic drawing from the museum collection. Smaller exhibits have been located in display cases. There is also a 40’’ interactive display screen presenting statements from one of the ironworks employees – sound comes from a sound shower directional speaker, which limits the sound signal dispersion to the stand area.
A visitor then moves on to a stand dedicated to metallurgical equipment. They can see huge machines presented in small scale. On the left there is an original clock-in device (used by the ironworks employees to confirm their presence at work), clock-in cards box and working hours register. It is one of the most favourite places for the youngest visitors, as next to the original device, they can use a smaller replica for them to clock-in as well. There are also two 40” display screens on this stand, which present recordings of the ironworks employees’ statements.
Work Zone is the showcase of the museum as there are large-size objects and machines used in the metallurgy process. This zone starts with a space dedicated to smelting, where a visitor can see original tools, such as trowel or tongs. An attractive element of this stand is a Staff locker used as a display case. There is also a 40-inch display screen presenting recordings of the ironworks employees statements.
A Cinema room offers the visitor an amazing experience. Steel, iron and fire are the main themes of the history of metallurgy presented in a spectacular movie. It talks about the origin of steel and iron in the historical and environmental context, and shows their role in the civilisation – emphasising how all these perspectives are connected. This is not just a film screening. Thanks to the newest multimedia technology, an immersive space has been created, offering a simultaneous to the visitors.
There is a bespoke construction on three walls painted with a special projection paint. Image is projected from five projectors, utilising mapping and edge blending technology, which make the whole room come to life. An additional element of this presentation is a dynamic soundtrack – narrative and sounds of the events shown on the screen – achieved by an effect sound system. This installation is a show of light, sound and smells that enhance the visitor experience. Special software based on so-called „timeline” integrates and synchronises all audio and video devices, as well as effect lighting, smoke machines and fragrance emitters (i.e., smell of burning). A multitude of means of expression and the newest multimedia technology diversify the educational messages of the installation.
Moving on, the visitor can see the original forging tools, i.e., forging and handling chains. A staff locker used as a display case is an important element of the exhibition arrangement. Visitors can also gain knowledge from prints, diagrams and a metallurgist report shown on a 40-inch display screen.
Laboratory is the next stop on our journey. There are models of machines such as ripper and a Charpy’s hammer, used for testing the strength, hardness and other technical parameters of steel.
A visitor walking to the next stage of the exhibition, learns more about the founders of metallurgy. A screen with films about the main personas in the metallurgy is the focal element of this exhibit. This space offers a sitting area where the visitors can rest and watch the recordings comfortably. A special feature here is a part of a monument (bust) of the Count Friedrich Wilhelm von Reden, who was appointed a Director of the High Department of Mining in Silesia in 1779 and played an important role in the development of industry in the region. A wall next to the monument is decorates with graphics of people who have also participated in the development of metallurgy in Silesia. On the external part of the wall, there is a stand with a 55’’ touch screen with an application containing information about a painting by Menzel titled „Das Eisenwalzwerk”. This piece of art shows metallurgists working on the production of railway tracks.
Power engineering is the main theme of the next space in the museum – this includes a wall with a presentation of various types of electrical measuring instruments (i.e., voltmeters and ammeters), as well as other artifacts (i.e., electric chime and original lighting frames). A staff locker is another display case and a 40-inch display screen shows metallurgist’s descriptions of their work.
A central feature of the next exhibit is a rolling mill model – this huge machine was used to reduce the thickness of the material. The exposition also includes a few smaller models. One of them is installed in such a way, to enable the visitor to start the mechanism with a winch. A display case in a Staff locker, 40’’ display screen and large format posters are also an important part of this exhibit.
A stand dedicated to work safety consists of a display screen showing movie material on the subject. There are original health & safety information and warning signs from factories places around the screen. A special feature presented here is a protective uniform with a fire helmet. A visitor can also learn more about the history of the ironworks safety from the H&S report books, safety instructions and an accident book.
A visitor now enters a space dedicated to products. A 55’ interactive display screen showing material on this subject is the main feature of the exhibit. There are printouts of product catalogue pages shown around the screen – these include: pipes of various diameter, angles, tees etc. There is also a shelf with smaller products created in the ironworks. On the wall opposite, the visitor will find dan infographics showing regional export trails and information about trademarks evolution.
After the Work Zone in the museum, the visitor enters the Life Zone. This exhibition talks about the family life of former ironworks employees. There is a composition of various household items presented in the space (such as kitchen dishes or garden tools), complimented by video material shown on a 40” display screen.
An area dedicated to the workers’ free time is also included in this exhibition. A profanum zone shows a story of an ironworks orchestra, their original music instruments and uniforms. Sports memorabilia from the Ruch Chorzow club (such as trophies, pennants, albums and chronicles). A sacrum zone includes a monument of St Florian – a patron of metallurgists, as well as banners and flags. The exhibition is complimented with recordings of people’s statements, shown on 40-inch display screens.
The final part of the museum journey is a Post Scriptum zone, which consists of one element only: a very interesting, large-size artistic installation showing a solid made of various industrial waste – elements of steel machines, rusted parts, old metallurgical trays or pieces of concrete bricks. Eight display screens with headphones presenting metallurgists’ statements and display cases with various objects donated to the employees, form a background for the installation. There are also photographs showing demolitions and liquidation of the ironworks shown in the exhibit.
Metallurgy Museum in Chorzow is a unique place, where every visitor can feel like an ironworks employee. They can see original artifacts, hear the sound of steel, the heat of the fire and the smell of burning. It is possible thanks to the multi-sensory solutions that we implemented in this museum. The exposition of the metallurgy machines enhances the size of the space and recordings of the real people add a human factor and provoke various emotions. Is it what a great museum should do? Senses awakening, diving into the world created in the exhibition, emotions and knowledge that would not be achieved just by reading the story of this place… This is why we are delighted to have been a part of this very special projects and belong to the team of creators of the Metallurgy Museum in Chorzow.