The Kroeger Clocks Heritage Foundation
We have developed this online resource, ‘The Virtual Museum of Mennonite Clocks’, to make accessible to the global public the stories of community, meaning, and cultural history associated with antique Mennonite wall clocks.
The Virtual Museum of Mennonite Clocks acts as a resource for material culture and a focal point for conversation–visit our blog–about this truly transnational heritage.
For centuries, European craftspeople focused their talents and energies towards creating clocks that brought beauty and structure into homes and communities.
These timepieces also carried emotional meaning. This continues to hold true for historical Mennonite clocks, which represent a unique aspect of Mennonite heritage. Today, these clocks serve as cultural touchstones, family heirlooms, and witnesses to the social and political upheaval experienced by their makers and owners. Our research interests and activities encompass artifacts, written histories, and oral histories about clockmakers and caretakers from the mid-eighteenth century to today.
Named after ex-priest and early leader Menno Simons (1496–1561), Mennonite communities are rooted in the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland during the time of the Protestant Reformation.
Our story of Mennonite clockmakers begins with Mennonites living in the region of Gdańsk, Poland, and continues to the Russian Empire in regions that are now Ukraine. Between 1870 and 1960 tens of thousands of Mennonites fled violent oppression, war, and economic hardship in those regions to settle around the world. Today, the Mennonite diaspora lives in Europe, Russia, and North, Central, and South America. Their clocks and clock stories have followed them through time and place.
In 2012, the late Arthur Kroeger published Kroeger Clocks*, which highlighted the author’s research of 55 surviving clocks.
Beyond this, his extensive travel, research, and restoration work resulted in the verification and detailed documentation of at least 200 additional clocks currently in private collections and museums in Poland, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Canada, Mexico, Belize, and Paraguay. Many more have since come to light but as yet remain undocumented, and the many stories are currently inaccessible to the general public.
*Mennonite Heritage Village (Canada) Inc., Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada, ISBN 978-0-9783937-1-7.
The Kroeger Clocks Heritage Foundation has three aims.
The first is to continue the essential work of locating and photographing Mennonite clocks around the world according to museum standards. The second is compiling and cataloguing detailed information of each artifact, thereby creating documentation for future reference. The third aim is to collect user-contributed stories from the global community of clock owners and caretakers and make this information accessible through the database and virtual collection of The Virtual Museum of Mennonite Clocks.
Our users are clock owners or their extended families, clock enthusiasts, scholars, horologists, and all people interested in the compelling stories revealed by these living artifacts.
By acting as a shared point of conversation and information retrieval, the website fulfills a vital (and thus far unaddressed) community need for information and understanding about these historical objects. And by anchoring a dispersed physical collection in one online location, this virtual museum addresses the nature of its transnational community. It constitutes a forum in which information and knowledge on Mennonite clocks and their craft are collected, disseminated, and enhanced.
Please consider donating to the Kroeger Clocks Heritage Foundation to help us continue to build this exciting project.
Our project team:
- Dr. Roland Sawatzky Ph.D. (Curator of History, The Manitoba Museum, Winnipeg, Canada)
- Dr. Kathleen Wiens Ph.D. (Exhibition Developer, Canadian Museum of Human Rights, Winnipeg, Canada)
- Alexandra Kroeger B.A. (Hons) M.A. (Assistant Curator, Mennonite Heritage Village, Steinbach, Canada)
- Anikó Szabó (Art Director/Graphic Designer aniko.ca)
- Dr. H. Elizabeth Kroeger LL.M. (Executrix of the Estate of the Late Arthur Kroeger)
We are extending an invitation to all who possess a Mennonite clock or know of one to contribute their information to help us create as expansive and inclusive a digital collection as possible.
If you have a story about a Mennonite clock, we would be happy to publish it on our blog.
Please consider contributing to this vital resource by contacting Liza Kroeger at the Kroeger Clocks Heritage Foundation via email or by simply filling out the form below. Details on your clock may give us clues to its history. If you wish to send photographs of your clock, please click on the Photography Standards document for reference. We can also help you find missing parts or direct you to a source for repairs.