The smem

A living archive

The smem, the Swiss Museum and Centre for Electronic Music Instruments, has one of the world's largest and most important collections of synthesizers, organs, drum machines, effects equipment, mixing consoles, amplifiers and studio equipment. Around 5000 instruments and devices are stored in its Schaulager in the BlueFactory innovation centre in Fribourg, Switzerland. Conceived as a living archive, the collection is intended to be accessible to artists, the general public and researchers. A selection of important electronic musical instruments can be used and experimented in the smem Playroom.

2022_09_Young Gods Conference

In the beginning

a project

The smem was born from the collection of Klemens Niklaus Trenkle from Basel. For 40 years, Klemens devoted himself to the collection of electronic musical instruments and built up the major part of this extraordinary collection. In 2016, the smem association contractually received the collection and committed itself to preserving it in a centre and making it accessible to the public through mediation and documentation projects. With the collection, the smem also adopted Klemens' vision that all electronic instruments are unique witnesses to our history and to the history of electronic and popular musics, past, present and future.

Since smem's foundation, the collection has grown by several hundred instruments. All have been generously donated to the smem by their owners or acquired by patrons, as the smem has no financial resources for acquisitions.

The basis of this impressive heritage is made up of analogue and digital sound devices, synthesizers, organs, drum machines and effects of all kinds and from the last decades. The collection also includes studio and stage equipment, recorders, mixers, amplifiers, electric guitars, speakers, PCs and microphones.

Today, the collection is stored, maintained and displayed in a collection space of only 600 m2. In the medium term, many of the instruments and devices on the smem site will be well documented and available to the general public through a virtual collection. For other presentations and exhibitions in the centre, more space for display and use is currently lacking. For musicians, a selection of valuable instruments are available in the smem Playroom and allow everyone, whether a novice or an expert, to come discover and record the voice of these historic machines.

A mission

three objectives

Creativity: To make electronic musical instruments accessible to artists and audiences. The collection consists of several hundred cult instruments and thousands of obscure pieces. This heritage must be made available to musicians for the artistic creation of today and tomorrow. In this way, smem supports musical creativity and makes a significant contribution to the experimental discovery of the extremely versatile world of electronic musical instruments. Many artists have already completed residencies in our Playroom and several recordings have been released in recent years.

Preservation: To preserve, maintain and explore the cultural heritage of electronic musical instruments. The smem has the ambitious goal of making as many instruments as possible accessible to current and future generations. Although the history of electric and electronic musical instruments is still recent, many pieces have already become inaccessible due to wear and tear or replacement by newer technology (digital instead of analogue). The collection therefore not only includes some particularly valuable instruments, but also preserves the entire history of an era that is essential for understanding the musical creation of the last decades and its challenges. Finally, the size of the collection offers the unique possibility of large-scale documentation and research concentrated in one place.

Mediation: Communicating and transmitting the sounds and technology of electronic musical instruments to the general public. Most people listen to music produced and played with electronic musical instruments. It is however uncommon to know the instruments and effects behind this music and the ways in which they have been used. The mediation of this world of electronic musical instruments is done on site and through virtual channels. The offer of mediation is addressed and adapted to all audiences and age groups.


The smem can count on the generosity of many partners.

Karl Weber (Zurich) was an invaluable support when it came to starting the smem adventure. Besides all the kickstarter backers, some partners and friends helped us to create the Playroom.

Z-Audio provided sound equipment for the Playroom and hardware for the audio workflow. Lots of professionals donated their invaluable time for the entire installation of the Playroom.

Among the manufacturers, we could count on the support of Novation, Focusrite, Erica Synth, Teenage Engineering and Mutable Instruments, division department. Finally, Legowelt, by relaying our Kickstarter campaign on social networks and by agreeing to make the first vinyl of the smem, has been an invaluable support.

The smem would like to thank the City of Fribourg, the State of Fribourg, the Loterie Romande and the Agglomeration of Fribourg, as well as the Ernst Göhner Foundation, for their valuable support.

Public support & Partners

Support our project

become a sponsor

To carry out its mission, the smem is looking for logistical and financial partners. Different offers exist to highlight your company or your project in relation with the current and future project of the smem. Do not hesitate to contact us for a customized offer.

For individuals wishing to support us and become members, please visit our Support page.



The smem is a non-profit organisation. Our team consists of a five-member executive committee and about thirty committed employees. All of them make a professional contribution, but most of them do so on a voluntary basis. The current paid activities of smem do not even represent a full-time position. In the long term, smem relies on voluntary and unpaid cooperation.

This applies in particular to the testing and maintenance of instruments and to the documentation via our database. The smem welcomes anyone who would be motivated to give a few hours from time to time to participate in the development of our institution.

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