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.