Wednesday 16 August 2023

Vacation and Models

During my vacation this summer I visited several museums that used models to explain historical and technical developments. I have previously mentioned models from the German Museum of Technology in Berlin, their scope and history. This summer models from Danish museums caught my eyes and made me reflect on how models help convey historical knowledge and provide context for other exhibits.

Models help provide context and fuel the imagination of visitors in museums. Here a model of a 17th century ship yard. Photo from the Wasa museum in Stockholm I visited earlier this year.

In the museum at the old Mønsted lime works models in several scales are used to illustrate how lime was quarried and processed. A faily large 1/87 scale model of the complete works and open pit quarry gives a good overview of the general layout of buildings and track. In a much larger scale (probably around 1/13 and definately larger than 1/19) a series of small dioramas and a huge one illustrated work methods as well as design and operation of the lime kilns.

Showing how animal, humans and simple tools quarried chalk in the open lime pit area. One of a series of small dioramas illustrating sequences of quarry work and chalk treatment. The modelling is kept in a naive-illustrative style which actually works quite well. The primary function of the model is to show how a certain operation worked, not to be a highly detailed scale model.

A train emerging from the lime underground galleries. The portal is a fine model of the actual Mønsted mine entrance. While the skips are quite nice models, the locomotive is an approximation of an early model Pedershaab locomotive. For the average museum guest the very recognizable red brick mine entrance clearly sets the situation in Mønsted. 

Two of the Mønsted ovens are represented in a large ca. 2x4 m diorama. Extremely well done buildings with detailed lifts for feeding lime into the ovens. The nice skips incl. weathering is present here as well. Rather coarse ballast is used in the track.

The large model of the lime kilns features a cut-away side seen here and an exterior view as seen above. The diorama almost completely fills the room and is wasn't easy the capture the diorama in a single picture. The quality of the buildings in the diorama was of a quality I would be very proud of, if I had been the model builder.

A completely different kind of museum - the royal castle of Koldinghus - also used models to give visitors an idea of the castle's development over time. A series of small scale models illustrated how the castle's structure and design changed through its more than 750 years of existence. Other Danish museums use digital 4D illustrations projected onto walls or viewed through binoculars and all the methods have their advantages. The physical models allow you to see several appearances over many hundreds of years at the same time, something the digital tools I have seen used don't do very well.

Several neat little models in similar sizes allows the visitor to see the castle's development during the centuries. The models aren't particularly detailed, but that is not their purpose. They convey general size and design through the times and illustrate the castle's rise and fall.

On my own worktable I'm currently working with outdoor lamps for buildings and poles as well as continuing the work on converting the Essel Engineering Fowler. The work includes new cab interior, adding lights and details as well as fitting new battery and RC equipment. 

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