The collection and presentation components: the public front ends
Besides the R&D units, which are not accessible to the public, the ZKM further
accommodates two museums, the Museum for Contemporary Art and the Media Museum,
as well as the Media Theatre that serves as forum for innovative real time performances.
The Media Museum constitutes the presentational front end of the research and
production processes initiated in the Institute for Visual Media and the Institute for Music
and Acoustics.Through its focus on interactive art, the ZKM Media Museum exemplifies
the hands-on, exploratory aspects and the didactic-educational component of the ZKM,
similar to the San Francisco Exploratorium.The concept behind the Media Museum is that
of a productive media art museum. In this context, productive means that visitors are not
just observers of pre-fabricated works of media art, but they can actively participate in a
discourse where they can make their own sense.
The focus of the Media Museum are different kinds of new media art installations, based
on six themes: media body, media space, media visions, media art, media experiments and
media games. About 40% of the art works exhibited in the museum have been produced in-
house, while another 20% of the interactive art works have been produced by artists
affiliated with the ZKM.
Museum for Contemporary Art (MCA)
Conceptualised as museum of all genres, the MCA today represents the more traditional
art genres painting, graphic, sculpture, and photography but also media and video art. Since
1990, the museum has built up one of the most significant collections of media art world-
wide.The collection includes some of the major works from the beginning of video art,
holography and electronic installations. Each year, the museum organises three to four
exhibitions, featuring European and American art trends and positions since 1960.
With the Media Theatre, the ZKM has an own performance place for multimedia
productions that is fully networked with all the other facilities in the house.The Media
Theatre is used for innovative shows where real time performance merges with computer
art to create new visual and sound impressions. In a recent performance, for example,
dancers have been connected with new media technologies to create a new experience.
The archiving component
The ZKM also houses a research library, the Mediathek, that is one of the most
comprehensive special interest libraries on new media art in the world.
The Mediathek is the library and archive of the ZKM, and offers, besides its own
publications and in-house works, one of the most comprehensive collections on
contemporary music, literature and videos art. It is the home for about 25.000 books and
CDs, 12.000 music titles, 600 art videos and 120 journals on media art, architecture, and
media theory.The Mediathek is also the official archive of the German Association for
Electro-acoustic Music (DegeM) and the International Digital Electro-acoustic Music
Archive (IDEAMA), which has been built up in co-operation with the University of
Stanford.The archive also collects and preserves the most important pieces of electro-