Instrument making
in two German republics

from June 2024

Spotlight exhibition on instrument making during the division of Germany

Electronic organ world champion TO 200/5, 1970, VEB Klingenthaler Harmonikawerke. Photo: SIMPK/Anne-Katrin Breitenborn

The Musikinstrumenten-Museum uses actors and objects to show the exciting relationship between East and West in instrument making. An exhibition to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the FRG and GDR.

Olga Adelmann, probably the world's first female master violin maker, worked as a restorer at the West Berlin Musikinstrumenten-Museum from 1956 and, thanks to her expertise, became a key player in the cross-border exchange of knowledge between violin makers in the divided city. The Musikwinkel, the region between Thuringia, Saxony, Bavaria and Bohemia, which has always been famous for instrument making, was strongly characterised by the political upheavals. Migration to Bubenreuth in Franconia, where businesses were deliberately relocated with political support from the West, and far-reaching state intervention and transformation into state-owned enterprises by the GDR point to the economic importance of instrument making, which became a political pawn. This aspect is emphasised even more clearly by electronic instruments, as corresponding instruments from both sides symbolise progress but also direct competition with each other.


Dr. Benedikt Brilmayer

Research Associate

+49 30 254 81 198


Barnes Ziegler, M.A.

Conservator for Bowed Stringed Instruments

+49 30 254 81 137


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