Status: 23 October 2014


Following Phil Judkins’ wording as have been expressed in the November issue of eDEN:




ICUE 2015


'Interpreting & Conserving Unique Electronics'

This workshop was stimulated by the challenges posed by Arthur’s restoration of the unique German ‘Nachtfee’ night-fighter IFF and ground control system for which Arthur won the DEHS award.  Every museum, and many private collectors, are faced with the problem of unique equipment, which may be in the form of a prototype, or of an equipment of which no more were made, or may be the sole survivor of equipments which were once numerous.

The challenges may be philosophical - should unique equipment be restored at all, or should it simply be conserved or put onto a shelf and passed on to future generations who may hopefully have better information and deploy better techniques? Archaeology is full of such examples, where for example dating evidence or DNA evidence has been destroyed.

The challenges may also be practical - if the item is to be restored or conserved, then how, if there are no instructions, manuals, or pieces of information in whatever form? It might very well be that understanding the principles on which the system actually works will be the biggest challenge of all. Additionally, electronic equipment has particular challenges of, for example, electrolytic corrosion – how to protect against this over the very long term of perhaps hundreds of years?

If the item is to be displayed, then how should it be interpreted? Technology is now moving so quickly that even the most basic principles on which such a system is based might be incomprehensible to a young person of today – and as for a young person of 25, 50, 100 or several hundred years’ time……!

There are especial issues for those in today’s museums, who only rarely are experienced engineers in electronics, and as such, are rightly hesitant to approach highly complicated and delicate (historical) electronics. More than that, even more rarely do they have the time to do so - Arthur dedicated more than two years full-time into his fascinating Nachtfee survey, but which institution in the world could, nowadays, allow a member of staff to be so engaged for such an indefinite period?

Nachtfee is quoted here simply as an example, but of course it might as easily be an exception, and a different approach might be the best way of tackling unique items. What are the criteria?

It is timely, therefore, for a workshop on all the 'pro and cons' of approaching unique artefacts and of leaving them untouched – hence ICUE 2015. Speakers and papers are invited on all and any types of unique equipment or documentation on items which may be electronic, electrical, electro-mechanical or indeed mechanical, and so are active participants to the discussions on current problems and challenges which will form a major component of the workshop. 

The workshop is planned to take place in Arthur’s Museum in Duivendrecht, Amsterdam, Netherlands, and the Foundation is making no charge – the only expenses attendees will bear will be their own travel and hotel accommodation charges.

The date will be set to ensure the maximum number of attendees, and to do this Arthur needs to know which date[s] suits you best.

Please contact us as soon as possible at:

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By Arthur O. Bauer