CONTRIBUTED BY AROUND THE WHEREVER
Are you in search of something to do that’s eclectic, fun, informational, and a short drive from the Kaiserslautern Military Community? The Staubsauger Museum in Bruchmühlbach-Miesau fits the bill!
What is a Staubsauger? It is the German word for a vacuum cleaner. I was initially charmed by the fact that there was a museum dedicated to vacuum cleaners. As the tour continued, I was charmed by another element.
The museum is open by appointment only. I contacted Herr Steffgen, the proprietor of the museum, to schedule a tour. My small group met him at the museum, which was previously a cow barn and is now a neatly organized and displayed collection. Normally he would prepare a customized tour based on the participants’ interests, whether it’s focusing on history or more on technology. Tours are available in German and English. Since we hadn’t specified our interests, he covered a bit of both.
Herr Steffgan started by showing us the vacuum cleaner that had started the collection. Shaped like a milk can, it is at first glance nothing that extraordinary, other than antique. However, as Herr Steffgan told us, the vacuum cleaner’s back story is rather unusual. In 1993, an 83 year old man from the local community gifted the slightly rusty vacuum to Steffgan and told him about its history. The elderly gentleman had bought the used vacuum cleaner from his boss in the 1930s. He had used it regularly but during World War II, he had to evacuate the area. He couldn’t take the vacuum with him so he buried it. After the war, he returned and dug it up, finding that although it had rusted a bit, it was still perfectly usable. It was so usable, in fact, that he continued cleaning his floors with it until 1993!
Herr Steffgan continued the tour, taking a historical approach. When pointing out the earliest vacuum cleaners, he even gave me the chance to try a few mechanical models, which had been introduced starting in the 1860s. Phew! They are quite the workout, requiring the user to pump the handle up and down in order to create suction.
When we moved onto the 1930-50s, we found vacuum cleaners that were more than just devices to vacuum. Companies had been developing the motors for the vacuums and found that these motors could power other appliances. One could change out the vacuum bag for a blender, for example! Even better yet? With the proper attachment, it is possible to turn some of the vacuums into airbrush painting machines. Herr Steffgan allowed us to “paint” a board with some water in one of the airbrush attachments.
We also learned about the power of vacuum cleaners. Herr Steffgan demonstrated a board that can be held to the wall with only suction. To prove the power of the connection, he had one of our group members sit on it.
The tour lasted about an hour. Our small group really enjoyed the visit. I had mentioned earlier that in addition to the museum, there was something else very charming about the visit; it was Herr Steffgan himself. His enthusiasm for vacuum cleaners is catching and it’s clear that he loves sharing his hobby. I had never given much thought to vacuums before but was sucked into the fascinating stories and information that he shared. Both adults and children can enjoy the museum with its mix of history, hands-on experimentation, and enjoyment of one man’s hobby.
Miesau Pfühlstraße 15
Museum visits are by appointment only. Call 06372-5090051.
Tours are available in English.
Entry is free but a donation is suggested.
Parking is available for free on the street.