Bergdala museum of glass technology

Bergdala museum of glass technology displays a technical and embodied history of design, told through the equipment used in early mass production and decoration of glass. (Re-)learning the Archive met with Kerstin Fröberg and Björn Zethræus who manage and showcase the museum’s collection.

Tell us about Bergdala museum of glass technology?
The whole thing started when the society Glas i Hovmantorp (Glass in Hovmantorp) managed to track down Kosta glassworks’ old pantograph. In 2015 we were given access to the old glass grindery behind the glassworks and since then the museum has developed to include a growing number of machines. The society Glas i Hovmantorp was disbanded in 2019 and instead a foundation was set up in 2020.

The idea behind the museum is to present the technical development that made the Kingdom of Crystal economically successful in the early 20th century. By that we mean the hard technology. Techniques for blowing art glass is something completely different, we wanted to focus on the mass production of glassware.

When visiting, we were obviously struck by the pantograph. What sort of machine is that and what did the work look like for the person operating it?
A pantograph is a machine that prepares a certain number of glasses for etching. A pattern plate is placed on a drawing table and the pantograph operator follows the patterns of the plate with a needle. A more detailed description can be found on our website which also includes more about the pattern plates that were found together with the horizontal pantograph in Kosta.

There is not a lot of literature on the machines used at the glassworks. What we know is what we have been told. But because we have a pantograph and know how it works, we can figure out how the work around it must have happened. Visitors to the museum also get an understanding of it as all the machines in our collection can be handled. Based on photos from the 1950s of glassworkers without protective gear, tales by glassworkers and the fact that the etching bath is made up of hydrofluoric and sulphuric acid it is safe to assume that the work environment around the pantograph was not the best.

You have both a website and a YouTube channel, do you want to say a few things about them?
Apart from the website and the YouTube channel we also have a blog. The idea is to share as much as possible. That is why we use a Creative Commons license, so all the material is basically free. The website also includes our inventory which is continuously updated.

We collate information from a variety of sources. Sometimes people visit who have experiences from the glassworks and who are happy to tell us about it. We think word has spread that we like to hear these tales. We love when people get in touch and it would be great to have even more stories from the glassworks floor, both older and more modern! 

Are there any questions you think we should have asked?
Yes, we would like to talk about the question about digitalisation. The constant challenge for many small museums is that there are very few opportunities for us to be searchable in museum databases or to reach out with our collections digitally. Many of the solutions that are free of charge require skills that we don’t have. We have tried to get a collaboration going with students of computer science to write an instruction manual in how to create an accessible database. The Swedish National Heritage Board have mentioned that they can help us connect to for example their database Kringla.

To share what we know and what we have in the collection is not just about attracting visitors to the museum, but also about distributing knowledge to people who can’t get here. To make our collection accessible makes obvious sense to us.


(Re-)learning the Archive

is a three-year long development project run by Designarkivet in Pukeberg with support from the Swedish Arts Council and Region Kalmar län (Kalmar County Council).

Christina Zetterlund
Project Manager

Maija Zetterlund
Project Coordinator  

In collaboration with

Virserums konsthall
Linnaeus University
Kalmar Konstmuseum

Designer in residence:
Evelina Mohei
Design and webb:
Mika Kastner Johnson

With support from 

Region kalmar läns logotyp
Kulturrådets logotyp