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Collector KH.W. Steckelings

Der Sammler KH.W. Steckelings aus Wuppertal, der der Stadt Mülheim seine Sammlung zur Vorgeschichte des Films verkaufte.

Born April 12, 1930 in Berlin

The collection "S" of KH.W. Steckelings from Wuppertal is an unique stroke of luck for the Camera Obscura in Mülheim an der Ruhr. KH.W. Steckelings, an respected short film-maker and photographer, has taken a close look at the topic “Prehistory of Film” for a long time.
On occasion of the sale of his collection to the city of Mülheim, Steckelings gave an interview to Dr. Tobias Kaufhold (the leader of the museum).


Why did you choose Mülheim, Mr. Steckelings?

T.K.    Mr. Steckelings, you are one of the few collectors who have compiled a complete collection of the prehistory of film. How did it start?
KH.W.S.    I started with this collection more then 30 years ago. As you might know, I am a short-film maker and a photographer. One day I wanted to get to know something about the precursors, the prehistory and the origin of these things. Our camera had not fallen out of the sky.
T.K.    How did you proceed?
KH.W. S.    I proceeded on three different ways. I read a lot, spent my weekends on flea markets and then one day I was able to publish myself. You want to pass on your knowledge about what you experienced. During this time I got in contact with other collectors and museums.
T.K.   The first description sounds quite easy. 
KH.W. S.    But it was not easy, because you need a lot of time, energy and also some money and a social sphere that tolerates your interest. It is unbelievable how often I went somewhere in vain and did not find anything. You have to be very careful because there are a lot of dubious offers. You have to know the prices and you have to read the catalogue of the auction very carefully. The only thing you can really trust is your own long experience.
T.K.    Where exactly did you buy the objects? 
KH.W. S.    I have diverse connections all over the world. This kind of collection, I have, cannot be compiled today anymore without financial recourses. As I already said, I collected these things about more than 30 years. Cities like London, where I lived for some years, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels are a central aim for me. By the way, in Brussels I bought the American saddle-peep-box and it took about three years to find an acceptable price for this object.
T.K.    Each object has its own history. That is a reason why you must surely have a close connection with these things. How difficult was it for you to part with 1100 pieces of your collection?
KH.W. S.    It was very difficult; therefore, I sometimes was not even able to sleep at night. Otherwise, it is also a fantastic feeling to be represented in a museum forever. As a collector I knew that I would never keep all these objects my whole life and I felt the responsibility to publish them for the next generation. The opportunity that this can come true with an “own museum” is a great pleasure for me.
T.K.    Why didn’t you sell your collection to America? You would have got more money there.
KH.W.S.    America is to far away and for me the collection would have been lost. It takes only one hour to get to Mülheim and I am also involved in the planning of the museum. But before I made my decision I visited the tower and took a look at its surrounding area. The Castle Broich, the MüGa-Park and the location at the Ruhr filled me with enthusiasm.
I am also very satisfied with the team and the charismatic project leader Inge Kammerichs. She assembled a team of partners who are qualified in their field and who are very interested in this project: The architect Professor Dr. H.H. Hofstadt, the set designer Dr. Niechoj and Mr. Kessler and last but not least you. You familiarized yourself with this subject in such a short time.
Where did you get my name from, Dr. Kaufhold?  I have never taken the initiative.
T.K.    You enjoy an excellent reputation in the collector scene. You have worked as an advisor for several museums and you were also responsible for the organisation and publication of travelling exhibitions. Heidi Draheim, the curator of the film museum in Düsseldorf, who unfortunately died not long ago, gave me your telephone number.
KH.W. S.    I am pleased about the way you see it.
T.K.    May I ask you what you are working on at the moment? 
KH.W. S.   I am working on a monograph about pictures of porcelain, also called “Lithophanien”. This work is very time-consuming. For this reason I even went to America last summer. Of course, I have also an extensive collection of these objects. It is very important to be able to touch the things you are writing about.
T.K.    What kind of advice can you give to young collectors?
KH.W. S.    It is better to buy a dog – man’s best friend.
T.K.     Mr. Steckelings, thank you for the interview.

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