Here is an old puzzle: There are twoobjects that are used for the same purpose. One has thousands ofmoving parts, the other has none. What do they do and what are they? The answer is that they both tell the time. The first one is anhourglass and the second is a sundial.
Last Sunday I took a trip to the townof Jêdrzejów, near Kielce. I had been there before becauseit has a narrow-gauge railway (running in the spring and summer). Astudent of mine told me about the famous clock museum and, interestedto see what a clock museum would be like, I took the overnight trainand got to the empty town square early in the morning. The museumwas supposed to open at 8AM and sure enough, right on time, it did.
Now I find nearly all subjectsinteresting but even if the idea of a clock museum sounds boring toyou, think again. The very friendly and knowledgeable guide took meon a personal tour of the building and the exhibits in it. The wayeverything is explained and displayed is enough to interest anyone inthe subject.
The house was an old pharmacy and therooms have been reconstructed the way they were in the early 20thcentury. The family tree was the first item the guide showed me. Itis a wonderful, complex painting which must have taken weeks ormonths to finish. The kitchen, library and living rooms are full ofexpensive furniture that no average manual worker of the time wouldhave been used to.
But the most important items are thetimepieces. As well as a large collection of wind-up and pendulumclocks, the museum has cabinets of sandglasses (normally calledhourglasses). These are true works of art as each one is made byhand (there were no production lines in those days). Personally Ican watch those things for ages. It beats television most of thetime.
Then the guide took me to the mainexhibits: the third largest collection of sundials in the world (after Oxford and Chicago). There are about 600 in the collection (not all of them are on display. That would require a much largerbuilding). They include the usual stone examples that are put onwalls or in a garden but also several other types. Some are portableand there are even ones that can fit in a pocket. Many include acompass to point them in the right direction and spirit levels sothat they sit perfectly flat. Others are held up to the sun (so youdon??™t need to know where north is) and the length of the shadowshows the time. They work differently in different parts of theworld so some of them have each capital city??™s own scale written onthem.
I could spend pages describingeverything, or just point out that it is open all year round (notMondays) and easy to get to by train. Now, I??™ve heard of a coupleof other unusual ideas for museums which I haven??™t visited yet. InGreenwich, London, there is a fan museum (hand fans, not electricones). That must be worth a visit. Then in Berlin there is the nextplace on my list to see: a museum of sugar.
polecane: Pierwszy Polak połknął elektroniczną pigułkę