Station: [12] Origins of the Museum

For about a century, the workshop of the three Karls Widmer in Altheim had been indispensable throughout the region. The tidemarks of passing time were preserved like tree rings, with the machines documenting the development from a woodworking shop to a metal workshop in the age of mechanisation.

Frickingen had long been aware of how great a treasure the workshop represented. In around 1999, the community considered preserving the workshop as a museum.

The chairman of Frickingen’s local history society, Albert Mayer, and Herbert Widmer, nephew to the youngest Karl, visited the latter in his workshop. By then 98 years old, but still vigorous and sprightly, he was not averse to the plans to turn his workshop into a museum. He had only one condition:

"I need to be sure that I can still work in it whenever I want!"

At the invitation of the then mayor Joachim Böttinger, a working group was formed in December 2001 "For the creation of a museum in the former Karl Widmer workshop". Its go-getting chairman was one Karl Groß. In January 2002, the group decided to consult the State Office for Museum Support in Stuttgart. They recommended Frank Lang, a museum consultant from Vaihingen, who was commissioned to develop a concept for the museum. He also came up with the name: Tinkerers’ Workshop Museum.

The municipality concluded a lease agreement with the building’s owner, Hans Thum, and that was when the real work began. The volunteer working group cleared out the workshop completely and thoroughly de-cluttered it. All the walls, ceilings and transmission systems were cleaned, as were the machines. At the same time, research into the history of the workshop revealed plenty of interesting facts.

In October 2002, construction work began on an annexe to the workshop building. In addition to the necessary toilet facilities, this was mainly intended to house the documentation centre for Josef Maier's work.

The volunteer working group spent more than a thousand hours turning the Tinkerers’ Workshop into a museum that would be worth visiting. Now the stream that flows through here and still drives all the machines is covered with a glass panel – you can not only see it, but even walk on the panel. The rushing sound of the turbine in the north-eastern corner of the room – the one that was built right here – conveys a striking sense of the force of the water.

On the 1st of June 2003, everything was ready: the inauguration of the Tinkerers’ Workshop Museum was celebrated with an open day. At a ceremony held the day before, Mayor Böttinger had already noted that this wouldn’t have been possible without the financial support of Josef Maier’s wife, Madame Bernadette Maier. Madame Maier was presented with the municipality of Frickingen’s golden badge of honour.

All depictions: © Gemeinde Fricklingen