Robert Bosch Hospital and Research Institutes

The road to a laptop by hospital beds

New permanent exhibition on the history of the Robert-Bosch-Krankenhaus

What do visitors see? A life-size Robert Bosch.  He visited Robert-Bosch-Krankenhaus at the official opening ceremony in 1940 and stated what he expected from the clinic and its staff, and how they could win patients’ trust. The permanent exhibition that opened in July 2006 in the new entrance hall of the Robert-Bosch-Krankenhaus (RBK) was developed in years of intensive research at the Institut für Geschichte der Medizin (Robert Bosch Stiftung Institute of Medical History). It provides exciting insight into the history of the foundation’s hospital. Many documentary photos, brief explanatory texts and media stations provide an overview of the facility’s history and present activities. A listening booth and several video stations provide variety.  Light is an important design element that guides visitors to the exhibition to discover the hospital’s beginnings in 1940.

Viewers are amazed by the extremely spacious patient rooms, even including balconies. They are also shown Germany‘s most modern operating theater of the time and learn that the hospital’s bread is baked in its own bakery, while the organically grown vegetables come from its own gardens. The large printed quotes of Robert Bosch reveal a man with great foresight who was ahead of his time. In the Hospital Guidelines (1941), he wrote: “I am aware that economic conditions and requirements are always subject to change. They lead to the necessity of constantly adapting my guidelines to the changed situation in a process of ongoing development." The exhibition highlights how the hospital developed based on Robert Bosch’s philosophy since its foundation in 1940 and was transformed into the present RBK health facility. The way the contrasting situations of the hospital in the past and today are presented is especially interesting. Beside the Herrenberger nurse, who brings a patient her mail, we see today’s patient with a laptop at her hospital bed. We also see the X-ray machine of 1940 beside today’s high-tech CT scanners. A needle that needed painstaking cleaning is compared to the disposable product used today. Some historical photos are real eye-catchers, such as Robert Bosch in the laboratory, a water facility in the old bathing department and a photo showing the Herrenberger nurses in their hostel, as they knit, played or rested together in their free time. No other hospital in Germany has a comparable historical exhibition. There have been several attempts to establish hospital museums elsewhere or present the history of a clinic in some cabinets and displays. But there has never been a permanent exhibition on the history of a hospital anywhere else that meets the highest technical and educational requirements. Once again, the foundation and its hospital have joined forces to set new standards.

(October 2006, Ute Grießhaber-Paule)