Visiting the Embacher Collection

We were told that collecting bicycle is dangerous. Every bicycle has several stories, a story of production, a story of cultural context and manifold stories of use during its lifetime. So collecting bicycles is also always about collecting stories and meaning, a cultural endeavour in itself.

The Viennese architect Michael Embacher embarked on this journey several years ago and started to build a bicycle collection, just in time before the vintage bicycle crazy hit Europe (and the rest of the planet). Now vintage bicycles are sought-after gear selling for (partly astronomical) prices in vintage bicycle shops, internet marketplaces and second-hand shops. This hype for vintage bicycles was not the motivation for Mr. Embacher, who collects contemporary as well as vintage bicycles and who started his collection as he says: “simply because I like the bicycle as a design object.”

Within about ten years Michael Embacher built up the EMBACHERCOLLECTION®, a one-of-its kind collection of about 200 bicycle including legendary mass-produced models, one-of-a-kind custom creations, and curiosities ranging from children’s bikes to athletic and leisure bikes, cargo bikes, and folding models. These masterpieces of design, normally housed in a Viennese attic and not accessible to the public, continue to serve the architect as objects of daily use.

The Austrian Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna, MAK, is cooperating with Velo-city 2013 for their exhibition “TOUR DU MONDE. Bicycle Stories”. As the museum announces the exhibition:”Bicycle Stories uses iconic bikes from the 20th and 21st centuries to tell of the quality and diversity of the designs exhibited by this classic mode of transportation. Selected examples from the EMBACHERCOLLECTION® will draw visitors into a journey through the history of the bicycle, this cult object which successively transformed technology and form allow one to trace the recent history of innovation and design in general.”

The Velo-city Vienna Management Team was lucky to be invited to Michael Embacher’s bicycle-filled attic in an undisclosed and well-protected location in the heart of Vienna. We were simply stunned by the beauty and diversity of the collection. The bicycles tell about the continuous history of innovating the bicycle, equipping it with new technical hints and also about rediscovering the beauty of a reduced single-speed bicycle. Some of the most entertaining examples of the collection are design-one-way lanes, designs for bicycle which were innovative but did not mainstream into the market.

We want to thank Michael Embacher for inviting us to his attic to see the collection and to hear some of his stories about specimens of his bicycle collection. We wish the collection all the best for the upcoming shows in other cities such as Portland and Tel Aviv. Collections such as the EMBACHERCOLLECTION® manifest the bicycle as a cultural object and as a valuable element of our society’s cultural heritage.

If you want to see more of the EMBACHERCOLLECTION®:

Visit the exhibition Tour de Monde bicycle stories in MAK, The Austrian Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna.

Have a look at the website of the EMBACHERCOLLECTION® to find out more about books published about the EMBACHERCOLLECTION® and the recently published iPad application Cyclepedia.


Velo-city 2013 Vienna | Cycling Stories
Author:
Florian Lorenz
Velo-city 2013 Communications Team