The Machine Tool Museum is the first interactive multimedia museum in Russia presenting the development of industries in Russia and in the world. It is one of the key parts of the creative industrial cluster, based in the disused production areas of the operating plant “Oktava”, world-famous developer and manufacturer of acoustic equipment for civilian use as well as the aerospace and defense industries.
During its stay in Tula, the team of the Association of Private Museums had the opportunity to look at some unique models of Oktava microphone, including the “First Space Microphone”, in which Yuri Gagarin said his famous words “Let’s go!” In September and October of this year, they among other relics: awards, photographs, vinyl records, postcards, and household items connected to the family stories of the workers at the industrial enterprises of the region, were on display at the Pop Up Exhibition DAST IST INDUSTRISH, organized by the museum and funded by the Presidential Grants Foundation as part of the project “Tula of Severe Style”.
“We would like to point out, that for us the most important part is not the machine itself, but the person behind it. Industrial history is not just the timeline of factories’ development, but also personal stories of people woven into the history of the companies. We aim to show human life through the machine”, says Grigory Porfirov, museum mediator.
Tula is one of the oldest industrial heartlands of Russia, and today there are more than two thousand active enterprises in the city, including petrochemical, gas and chemical, mechanical engineering industries as well as metallurgical and pulp and paper enterprises. It’s impossible to imagine Tula without the strongest and the most crucial element of its image — the industry. However, modern society often forgets about it.
So in order to draw people’s attention to the industrial Tula, the museum environment was designed to be not an academic, but a new technological one. It’s one of a kind. A special semi-transparent tulle is used to create large demonstration screens. Machines appear and disappear on the screen to be replaced with video projections of historical chronicles, infographics, and tour guide scripts. A system of sound effects, plant models with video mapping, and other complex multimedia objects complement the exhibition. Instead of a tour guide, the visitors are guided by… “virtual staff”. Famous Russian actors narrate the history of industrialization, its origins and development. The voices of Alexander Baluyev, Nikita Efremov, Anatoly Beliy, Alisa Grebenshchikova, Irina Pegova, Veniamin Smekhov, Sergey Chonishvili can be heard in the museum. Through reading passages from the diaries of workers, engineers, and writers, the actors enable the audience to feel the awe that people who worked at the factories felt in the presence of those huge machines.
Of course, there are also some common exhibits in the museum as well. The large area of 1000 square meters houses eight rare machines weighing hundreds of pounds each, transported from Moscow, Vladimir, Tver, Saransk, Rybinsk, and Tula enterprises. This includes the case press used for the production of cartridge cases, the Spinning Jenny — the symbol of the industrial revolution,
the first steam engine, the steam Tsar Power Hammer and the Henry Ford conveyer belt assembly line.
The sound installation made with huge pipes hanging from the ceiling is especially noteworthy. It creates the factory noise. The installation produces four types of sounds and usually receives a lot of attention from the visitors.
To learn more about the history of industrialization and machine engineering, guests can use a free electronic encyclopedia — the media library. It is located next to the main hall exit. The library contains a collection of unique articles, photos and videos gathered by the best curators and experts. Also, everybody is welcome to join the Industrial Tour Guide School where one can learn to work with local history sources and design original guided tours around the industrial side of Tula.
However, the Machine Tool Museum events are not limited to the industrial theme. The temporary exhibition halls host a wide variety of exhibitions. Currently on display are works of contemporary artists from Tula, people from different backgrounds, who use various techniques to show the unvarnished truth about their hometown, but they do it with love. The museum aims to demonstrate that Tula has a lot to offer. The locals can be proud of their city, and the tourists who come here for a weekend can learn a lot and have a good time.