Museum Arbeitswelt Steyr – 2006
The museum Arbeitswelt (world of work) opened with the regional exhibition Work – Human Beings – Machine in 1987. It set standards in Europe at that time, when a fundamental crisis appeared and changed the working society (Arbeitsgesellschaft). The exhibition explained the change to the visitors and offered reasons for the development based on socio-historical connections.
Since then, the world of work has gone through a dramatic change in the course of globalisation. This process of change is taking place at high speed and uncertainty is ubiquitous. After 15 years, the exhibition working-world.net again offers a space for reflecting on the ongoing change focusing on the highly relevant aspects of current developments. However, the complexity of the ongoing process does not allow a singular explanation.
Furthermore, the visitor is not forced to follow a linear narrative from one room to the next. Reinforcing the metaphor of a network, the concept enables the visitor to establish a connection in any room. Goal is the provision of a closely woven (mind-)web requesting the visitor to access the meaning of the change step by step .
The new concept intends to include not only scientific interpretations but also artistic interventions. In addition, international co-operations with leading research institutes will lead to a presentation of state-of-the-art knowledge and foster further discussions. The aim of the project is a lively and experimental presentation of the ongoing change based on newer media like video and text animation, photos, and art installations.
Opening on the 6th of June 06 the exhibition working-world.net will establish an international benchmark for other museums. It also incorporates changes in industrial architecture. A newly designed spatial object alienates the functionally designed factory building and leads to a new, unknown future of work. he flexible shape evades any singular definition and reflects the ambivalent change process.
Spurwien (Arno Grünberger, Doris Rothauer, and Sven Sappelt) and the department of social and societal policy of the Johannes Kepler University Linz (Josef Weidenholzer, Bettina Leibetseder) realize the project supported by well-known experts. Area 1: Brave New World of Work?
Powered by transmission an ensemble of old machinery relates to industrial mass production in the 1920s and 1930s in Steyr. In addition, a movie of the production line of the Steyr 100 and Steyr Baby (cars produced in the 1930s) depicts the significant impact of fordism on the every day life of the workers, dividing their day into work and leisure. An old pub takes up the leisure aspect with information about discussions on the introduction of the assembly line and displaying photos and newspapers from the 1930s. The machines still determine the daily rhythm of the workers, which is displayed by the modern car production site of BMW in Leipzig and contrasted by the Dacia factory in Rumania producing with manual labour and low tech.
Area 2.1: The Whole World Works – 24 Hours
The production of a smartphone portrays the global division of labour. The stations of the production process are worldwide: digging raw material in Africa, developing software in India, designing in the US, assembling in China and logistics in Europe. Five documentaries inform about work, social environment, and personal views of five real workers and jointly visualize how the entire world works 24 hours a day. The films are displayed as levitated projections; the walls offer additional text and photos. Artistically designed information globes about worldwide social aspects provide a transition to the next room.
Area 2.2: The Dynamised Human
This module leads to a comprehension of the ongoing globalisation, displaying mainly the effects of the post-industrial world on a macro-level. The core theme is the ongoing migration of human beings and capital: human beings move to find an adequate job and capital migrates creating empty landscapes as well as new economic activity elsewhere. In fact, local people also have to cope with a changing environment and new challenges in this dynamic world: opportunities at distance from the neo-liberal development of globalisation are also discussed.
Area 2.3: The Stock Market’s World – Global Economy
Financial markets are the first global markets and form a central part of the new global economy. The functioning of the international markets and their power is the major theme of this room as well as the change from material to immaterial products and the sheer amount of capital transferred without boundaries.
Area 2.4: Space for Social Policy?
The traditional social systems covered risks and assisted people for years. In the course of globalisation, the risks and people’s needs change. The power of social policies of the nation states is increasingly limited. The visitors can explore the development of welfare states within the last 30 years and individually collect information on certain problem areas via a database.
Area 3: Company and Work Organisation in the Networking World
Due to the new technological possibilities, the organisation of a multinational corporation has changed: The new form of organisation incorporates a flat and dynamic structure (decentralisation, project work, rationalisation, core competences, outsourcing, etc.). The demands of the organisation towards the employee change: personal responsibility and adaptation to new situations. Moreover, as the power of the multinational corporations increases, the nation-state and trade unions struggle to find other modes of action.
Area 4: Rise of Self-Entrepreneurship (Arbeitskraftunternehmer) – The Post-Industrial Individual
Germany introduced the ‘Me plc’ (Ich AG) among other measures to reform the labour market. In Austria, the changes in the labour market shift more and more employees from standard employment contracts towards other so-called atypical types of employment like agency work, part-time work and temporary contracts. In addition, other kinds of employment reduce the social insurance liabilities for the employer imposing higher risks on the employee: the individual faces the changes as a subjective experience but overall it is a collective development. Ten individual stories display the variety of employment. The classical male breadwinner working 40 hours a week on a basis of a standard employment contract visualises the sharp contrast to the contemporary types of employment.
Area 5: Steyr – Globalisation and Change
Due to the industrial development, Steyr has been part of the global economy for a long period: the 70s provided security and worldwide business for one large enterprise, the 80s led to a crisis almost destroying the industrial location. Nowadays, Steyr is a prospering city, where several multinational enterprises have established production sites. This module displays the changes for the city and for the individual facing new risks as well as opportunities.
Area 6: The Office of the 21st Century
Which effects do communication and information technology have, along with the design of the workplace, on the everyday life? What does the new office and the work environment look like in the 21st century? Is there still a strict separation between leisure and work?
The office partly provides the information and regeneration zone of the exhibition. The visitor can gain further information about the exhibition from terminals representing pervasive technologies and can relax in a specially designed area.
Area 7: The Laboratory of the Future
This module develops an understanding about the future technologies shaping our life and the social implications. Three essential questions are posed in the area of Bio Tech and InfoTech. The laboratory itself will be regularly updated in cooperation with the Ars Electronica Futurelab. On the last level of the newly designed bridge, the visitor can propose his/her utopia or wish on the screen, confronting subsequent visitors with a personal idea.
Area 8: Information Technology
The contemporary information and communication technologies play an important part in most of the developments of society. Most changes concerning work organisations, enterprise structure, and financial markets would not be possible without this technology: A centre-piece, located in the main hall between the stock market’s world and office of the 21st century, portrays the impact of this technological advancement.