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The Museum „Prehistory of Film“ tells a story about the long dream of mankind to produce pictures and made them move. The development of technology was influenced by the discoveries of physical legalities – the inventions and the equipment became more and more imaginative, and the possibilities to imply movement into the fixed picture became more explicit.
Schattenspiele waren dem Menschen schon früh als Bildspielerein bekannt.Shadow plays, magic laterns, peep-boxes, kaleidoscopes, thaumatropes or thumb cinemas – who does not know one of these optical toys children liked to play with in former centuries?
On the traces of this early history of the moving picture the visitor will be confronted with all these “optical amusements” in the form of fantastic exhibits from the collection “S” of KH.W. Steckelings. They are the basis of the museum and explain with their complete documentation “how pictures learnt to move”.

But the Museum “Prehistory of Film” offers much more: There are 14 different stations of topics where the visitor cannot only see the historical artefacts, but can try himself the model- replicates of the exhibits and discover optical phenomena. 

The topic on the first floor is “Light and Shadow”. You can discover the beginnings of the picture-experiment with shadow-theaters, “Faltperspektiven” and “Rollenpanoramen”. Objects which are influenced by light such as wafer-thin “Lithophanien” or amazing transparencies show a close interaction between light and perception. The bizarre appearing anamorphosis, as well as the generally known kaleidoscopes represent significant stages of development of how to become a film.  Ansicht der Themenstationen in der ersten Etage des Turms.

On the second floor you get to know something about “the moving picture and the early technologies”. Maybe known by everyone: the thumb cinema. This “cinema for the pocket” was of course already very close to the scenic sequences of a picture. On this floor you can also find the different stages of development leading to this object. Zoetropes, wheels of life and thaumatropes are excellent examples to show how the optical delusion gained in dynamic and depth.    

Das Zoetrop oder die sog. Wundertrommel zeigt dem Betrachter durch die Schlitze bei schneller Drehung eine lebendige Szene. 
In the third part of the museum, which is already located in the dome of the tower, the visitor can see peep-boxes, early photography and, of course, the world biggest “walk-in“ Camera Obscura!
The peep-box was for a long time the “historical television” which spread news, but also showed pictures of landscapes, cities and natural disasters.
The principle of the Camera Obscura was already described by Aristotle in the fourth century before Christ. During the centuries it was built in many different ways.  A Camera Obscura for journeys, for example, – which gave the traveller the opportunity to draw sketches without any talent – was very popular. 

The presentation of the Camera Obscura at the projection surface in the dome of the tower is the grand finale of both an entertaining and an instructive visit to the Museum “Prehistory of Film”.  

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