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Where machines used to hum...

Building and architecture of the Siemens Healthineers MedMuseum

The very place where visitors from all over the world can now go on a voyage of discovery, tracing the early days of medical technology and the history of Siemens Healthcare GmbH, was a site of hard work back in 1893. The Siemens Healthineers MedMuseum has made its home since 2014 in what was once the machine shop of Reiniger, Gebbert & Schall (RGS), one of the predecessors of Siemens Healthcare GmbH, the medical technology arm of Siemens AG.

The old RGS factory under construction Image
The old RGS factory under construction (photo: 1892/93)

The workshop for optical, physical, and electromedical devices founded by Erwin Moritz Reiniger back in 1877 was initially based in a building at Schlossplatz 3 in Erlangen. But once Karl Schall and Max Gebbert joined the firm to form RGS, in 1886, the space quickly grew to be too small. Construction of the facility known in retrospect as the “Old Factory,” located on the corner of Buckenhofer Strasse (now Luitpoldstrasse) got under way in 1892. At 6,330 square meters, the new building offered twice as much space as before. The factory opened in 1893; it was home to numerous workshops and offices as well as a gauge room, a physical lab and a chemical lab. The company had chosen the site to secure long-term possibilities for expansion, too, since the building was located on the undeveloped outskirts of town.

The old RGS factory before the expansion to the south Image
The old RGS factory before the expansion to the south 1898
Old factory with expansion to the south Image
Old factory with expansion to the south, 1898

Not long afterward, in 1897 and 1898, the factory was expanded to the south, nearly doubling in size. The company bought up the surrounding land at the same time, and in 1898, RGS received a special honor: Prince Ludwig of Bavaria (later King Ludwig III) visited Erlangen, visiting the Reiniger, Gebbert & Schall factory on his trip. Company owner Max Gebbert personally gave him a guided tour of the new space. RGS was the largest factory in Erlangen at the time, and the company continued to grow. In 1910, an administrative building was built on Luitpoldstrasse, next to the factory, by the Mauss construction company. The new building was where the directors and managers worked. A carpentry shop was built next to the administrative building a short time later, in 1911, by Dyckerhoff & Widmann, a company that specialized in concrete structures – a new style of construction at the time.

Factory grounds with the old factory and administrative building Image
Factory grounds with the old factory and administrative building from Luitpoldstrasse, 1910
Carpentry shop and administrative building from Luitpoldstrasse Image
Carpentry shop and administrative building from Luitpoldstrasse (photo: 1925)

This area would come to be the starting point for many other buildings on the grounds in the decades that followed, reflecting the history of the company as it evolved from RGS into Siemens-Reiniger-Werke and then the medical technology division of Siemens AG. When the new construction was completed after World War II, the company grounds stretched from Gebbertstrasse to Hartmannstrasse and between Luitpoldstrasse and Henkestrasse, and in some cases even beyond that. Most of these factory facilities were demolished in 1999. Of the many buildings that existed back then, most of which were connected with each other underground, the only ones still left standing today are the high-rise on Henkestrasse and the buildings on the corner of Luitpoldstrasse and Gebbertstrasse, which became the property of the City of Erlangen. They keep the memory of this era and the formerly gigantic plant grounds alive. 

 

When MedArchiv and MedMuseum moved in, things had come full circle. Over a period of about four years from 2010 to 2014, new space for the archive and museum was created on the ground floor of the buildings along Gebbertstrasse under the leadership of architect Simone Krainz. A modern annex connected to the brick façade – which is a designated historic site – is the meeting point for visitors and the entrance to the museum. The site was also designed to have space for special exhibitions and other events. The exhibition was designed by SchielProjektgesellschaft mbH, a company based in Berlin.

The annex for the Siemens Healthineers MedMuseum under construction Image
The annex for the Siemens Healthineers MedMuseum under construction, 2013/14
The Siemens Healthineers MedMuseum today Image
The Siemens Healthineers MedMuseum today

Links:
For more information on the museum’s architecture, please visit www.krainz-architekten.de
Information on the design of the permanent exhibition is available at www.schiel-projekt.com

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