The smem

A living archive

The smem (Swiss Museum and Centre for Electronic Music Instruments) is home to one of the world's most important collections of electronic music instruments. Conceived as a living archive, the smem is designed to store, study and explore the instruments behind the music scenes of yesterday, today and tomorrow. 

From synthesizers to drum machines, from effects equipment to mixing consoles, around 5’000 devices can be discovered in its Schaulager, located in the very heart of Fribourg (CH). A selection of instruments can be used and experimented in the smem’s Playroom by anyone, from professionals to beginners.

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 music instruments and built up the major part of the smem’s extraordinary collection. In 2016, the museum’s association contractually received the collection and committed itself to preserving it in a center 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 the smem's foundation in late 2016, 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. 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 600m2. 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 center, more space for display and use is currently lacking. For musicians however, 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 music 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, the smem supports musical creativity by encouraging the discovery and exploration of the versatile world of electronic music instruments. Many artists, newcomers or confirmed, 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 music instruments.

The smem has the ambitious goal of making as many instruments as possible accessible to current and future generations. Although these objects are still recent in our history, many pieces have already become inaccessible due to wear and tear, or replacement by newer technology. 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: Presenting the cultural value of electronic music instruments to the general public.

Most people listen to music that includes the use of electronic music instruments. It is however uncommon to know the role these instruments have played in all genres of music from the last decades. The third main objective of the smem is therefore to create physical or digital content and activities that allows audiences of all ages to understand the cultural importance of synthesizers, drum machines and similar pieces of equipment in our societies.


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, Soma, Bastl, 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 organization. Our team consists of a five-member executive committee and about thirty committed employees. All of them make a professional contribution to the smem’s activities, 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, the museum 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, in situ or online, to participate in the development of our institution.

Contact - Information