In the 19th century, Berlin was the research hub for cell biology – in no small part thanks to the precise microscopes made in the some 80 specialized workshops in Berlin and Brandenburg. The devices enjoyed an excellent reputation worldwide. This heyday and the diverse applications of the microscope – from a curiosity in Berlin’s salons to traveling microscopes for nature observation to high-powered microscopes for universities – are the subject of the permanent exhibition “Invisible ‒ Visible ‒ Transparent,” which is on display on the second and third floors of the MDC.C Conference Center.
While the third floor focuses on modern microscopy, the second floor features a display of some 30 historical microscopes. “Up to now there has been hardly any information about the devices, except for the name of the manufacturer – we wanted to change that,” says Professor Helmut Kettenmann. The MDC researcher conceived and curated the exhibition; the microscopes on view are from his own collection.
A total of 42 short videos now provide information about the type of microscope and explain the special features of each device. “We filmed the microscopes on a turntable and zoomed in on particularly interesting details,” reports Kettenmann. Each video lasts from 40 to 60 seconds, and can be accessed in the exhibition by scanning a QR code.
An expansion of the range of videos on offer is already underway: After all, Kettenmann’s private microscope collection encompasses more than 100 additional devices. The short videos about these microscopes will be made available on the internet in the form of a virtual museum.
Text: Wiebke Peters