Gesten - gestern, heute, übermorgen

– in the past, present, and future

The special exhibition “Gestures – in the past, present, and future” took place from 17 November 2017 to 4 March 2018 at the Saxon Museum of Industry. It looks at the connections between gestures as a means of human communication, current changes in industrial production, and gesture interfaces that will shape our interaction with machines in the future.

From special exhibition to travelling exhibition

From 11 April 2019, the exhibition will be shown in a slightly altered form at the Museum für Kommunikation in Berlin. In September, it will then move on to Frankfurt am Main where it can be admired in the Museum für Kommunikation until March 2020.

With the video tour through the Chemnitz special exhibition, a first impression can already be gained for the visit to Berlin and Frankfurt.

“Gestures – in the past, present, and future” is an exhibition that combines thought-provoking ideas with interactive exhibits and artistic installations!
  • Learn about gesture research in linguistics and anthropology. Interactive exhibits specially developed for this exhibition allow you to experiment and play with gestures, and to understand their various functions in human communication.

  • Learn about the cultural history of tools and machines, and the changing role of the human hand in production.

  • Experience how gesture control works today, and what it will mean in the future for our interaction with machines, both at work and at home.


Logo der TU Chemnitz
Logo der Ars Electronica Futurelab
Logo des Industriemuseums Chemnitz
Logo des BMBF
Logo des DLR
Logo der Ostdeutschen Sparkassenstiftung und der Sparkasse Chemnitz
Logo der Kulturstiftung des Freistaates Sachsens
Logo des Staatsministeriums für Wissenschaft und Kunst Sachsens
Logo der Stadt Chemnitz
Logo der Initiative Chemnitz Kulturhauptstadt Europas 2025

  • Idea, scientific concept, project leadership: Prof. Dr. Ellen Fricke and the MANUACT team of the Chemnitz University of Technology (Dr. Jana Bressem, Project co-ordination, Dr. des. Matthias Meiler, Johannes Müller-Viezens, Daniel Schöller, Dr. Martin Siefkes)
  • Development and dramaturgy of the exhibition, curation of artworks, research partner: Christopher Lindinger und Marianne Eisl, Ars Electronica Futurelab (Linz)
  • Scientiifc consulting, curation, museum education and supporting program: Dr. Oliver Brehm, Anett Polig and the team of the Chemnitz Museum of Industry
  • Exhibition design: Helmstedt | Schnirch | Rom

Take a look inside

  • How do we communicate with hand movements? What do gestures tell us about our language, culture, and technology? And how are they related to the tools and machines we use?

Here’s a sneak insight, of seven different exhibits that (among many other topics) await you in this fascinating exhibition.


“Gestures – in the past, present, and future” is a special exhibition at the Chemnitz Museum of Industry which presents results from the MANUACT research project. This project investigates the interactions between hands, objects, and gestures from a linguistic perspective. Our tools and machines, the way we manually interact with them, and the human gesture repertoire are connected. In MANUACT, linguistic and semiotic methods and theories are combined with approaches from ergonomics and artistic research on current developments.

The following short video [German] introduces the MANUACT project and explains its goals.

We thank the artist Anette Rose for her support during the application phase of the MANUACT research project from 2012 to 2015 (

Supporting programme

As well as guided tours for the visitors, the exhibition will also include a Sunday matinee and a scientific symposium. For the symposium, internationally renowned researchers have been invited to the Chemnitz Museum of Industry, to discuss the research results of MANUACT and the topics of the exhibition. The dates at a glance:


Zwei Handpaare über einer Spinning Jenny. Das eine verdrillt einen Faden, das andere empfindet dies gestisch nach.

Museum education

The exhibition provides a comprehensive learning programme: for children, teenagers, school classes and the whole family. The individual dates can be found below. In addition, there is a photo competition TALKING HANDS for students of grades 5 to 10.


Ein Handpaar in einer Werkstatt. Es bearbeitet Handskulpturen aus Alignat mit Sandpapier. Weitere Hand- und Armmodelle liegen im Vordergrund oder stehen aufrecht.


Chemnitz University of Technology: Linguistics and Ergonomics

The research profile of the Chemnitz University of Technology focuses on the relationship between human and technology as one of three core competences. This interdisciplinary approach also characterizes the MANUACT project, in which the professor of German Linguistics, Semiotics and Multimodal Communication (Ellen Fricke) and the professor of Ergonomics and Innovation Management (Angelika Bullinger-Hoffmann) cooperate.

  • Prof. Dr. Ellen Fricke and her team conduct research on the German language from a perspective that doesn’t abstract it from its context. Language is understood a means of (everyday) communication in its rich functionality and connections – including with other signs: when we speak, we use not only our voice, but our whole body to communicate meaning; when we write, we illustrate our texts with pictures; when we watch a film, we may comment on the images on the screen; etc. A specific focus is on co-speech gestures in face-to-face communication. The “Research Centre on Gesture and Speech” (led by Dr. Jana Bressem), located at the professorship, focuses on practical applications, connecting teaching, research and professional training.
  • The use of gestures to communicate with robots and other machines is rapidly becoming a reality, both in production and in the consumer sector. The success of innovative products and technologies depends on the usability of gesture interfaces. Prof. Dr. Angelika C. Bullinger-Hoffmann and her team study solutions for human-machine interfaces, both for the workplace and the home of tomorrow. All solutions are flexibly designed to meet the requirements of their users. The aim of the research is to develop new methods and tools for the design of user-friendly interfaces between humans and new technologies.


Ars Electronica Futurelab (Linz)

Since it was founded in 1996, the Futurelab, Ars Electronica’s in-house transdisciplinary media art lab, has been honoured with numerous prizes and has earned an international reputation as one of the leading non-university R&D facilities in the fields of media art, information aesthetics, interaction design, persuasive technology, robotics and virtual environments. The Futurelab works together with several universities and private sector partners worldwide, develops promising strategies for major corporations, and opens up new markets.

The Ars Electronica Futurelab’s international staff - scientists, engineers and artists with training in a wide array of disciplines - comes up with innovative concepts, projects and prototypes in the fields of media art, architecture, design, interactive exhibition design and real-time graphics.

Ars Electronica Futurelab

Saxon Museum of Industry Chemnitz

The Museum was founded after German unification in 1991. The collection grew rapidly during its early years and today consists of more than 22,000 objects, focussed on textile and office machinery, machine tools, vehicles, Saxon industrial products, and the economic and social history of Saxony, including art.

Today, the museum is the centre of the Saxon Museum of Industry, which runs another three industrial heritage sites in Saxony: Crimmitschau cloth mill, Ehrenfriedersdorf Tin Mine and Knappenrode Open Mining Museum.

The listed former foundry of about 4,500 m² forms the magnificent and authentic setting of the permanent exhibition in Chemnitz. The exhibition is divided into eleven topics and gives an insight into more than 200 years of industrial history in Saxony from mining and the textile industry to mechanical and automotive engineering, up to the social impacts of industrialisation. On a silver strip running throughout the exhibition spaces, the visitor will find a selection of outstanding Saxon products and inventions.

The visit becomes a splendid experience through guided tours, demonstrations of numerous exhibits (e. g. machine tools, control technology, textile- and office machines) and through interactive offers. A special attraction is the 1896 "Germania" -steam engine running on live steam monthly.

The museum offers guided tours on various topics for groups of up to 25 people and foreign language -tours on request. For groups of pupils, children and younger visitors special workshops for metalworking and casting, textile fabrication and printing, to name but a few, are offered.

The Museum is a favourite location for events such as business jubilees, conferences, and so forth, where it provides an attractive setting.

Museum of Industry Chemnitz


Hauptgebäude des Industriemuseums Chemnitz, Vordereingang, links daneben das Ausstellungsplakat.

Plan your visit

Further information can be found on the website of the Museum of Industry Chemnitz.
Opening hours:

Tue-Fri 9:00 – 17:00
Sat, Sun, Holidays 10:00 – 17:00
The museum is closed/has modified opening hours: on 24., 25., 31. December and 1. January

Admission fees:

Adults: € 7
Reduced entry: € 4
Groups of 10 people or more: € 5
Reduced entry groups of 10 people or more: € 3
Children up to 18; students over 18; students of the Chemnitz University of Technology; people accompanying a disabled person, travel groups, preschool or school groups: free

Address and contact information:

Sächsisches Industriemuseum Chemnitz
Zwickauer Straße 119
09112 Chemnitz, Germany
Fon: 0049-371-3676-140
Fax: 0049-371- 3676-141

How to find us:

The museum is located in the west of the city centre on the Zwickauer Straße. It can easily be reached by car, tram and bus (tram and bus stop “Industriemuseum”).


A selection of press photos can be found in the press archive of the Chemnitz University of Technology. The exhibition poster can be found here.
Media coverage – selection

Media coverage – chronology
Contact form for inquiries

Please enter this number (spam prevention)

Scroll to top