Člověk a telefon (Of Phones and Man) exhibit opens at the National Technical Museum

The phone is 140 years old but still changing in ways that its inventor never dreamed of

Young people today are totally mystified by old fashioned dial phones, and have no idea how to operate them. They have, in fact, become museum pieces. A new exhibition called Of Phones and Man (Člověk a telefon) has opened at the National Technical Museum in Prague 7 and will run until April 30, 2017.

The exhibition marks 140 years since Alexander Graham Bell patented the first phone in 1876, as well as well as 25 years since the introduction of the internet to the Czech Republic and two decades of mass-market mobile phones. The exhibition will cover everything from archaic phones and switchboards up to modern smartphones equipped with virtual reality.

People can see the history of phone technology and also find out the capabilities of the latest generation of smartphones and see predictions for the future development of communications technology. Vojtěch Náprstek, the founder of the institution that developed into the National Technical Museum, was one of the first people in Prague to have a phone and helped to bring the idea to the public. So the exhibition helps to bring the museum back to its roots. Telephony is also one of the fastest developing fields of technology and has a growing impact on people's lives.

The exhibition has phones and other items from private collections, as well as the museum's own holdings. There are examples of Bell phones and Siemens phones from the last part of the 19th century. There is also the office phone from Konopiště chateau, the home of Archduke Franz Ferdinand d'Este Konopiště. Other famous phones include a luxurious one with an ivory receiver that was used in the 1942 film Golden Bottom (Zlaté dno), starring Vlasta Burian.

The development of table top phones in the 1980s is also traced. The exhibition then takes us up to a new topic, the Internet of Things, where devices and inanimate objects communicate with each other as well as with humans.

The exhibition is interactive. Visitors can experience virtual reality with 3D viewers, or send messages to or call other people at the exhibition at the same time.

A new book by Tomáš Sedláček and other authors called 2036 has predictions on the development of communications technology. A copy of the book will remain at the museum for the next two decades and, if anyone remembers about it and the museum still exists, the predictions of the book will be compared to the reality of 2036 when that year rolls around.

The exhibition was prepared in cooperation with T-Mobile Česká republika and covers about 500 square meters of museum space.

National Technical Museum www.ntm.cz/en

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