From Startup to Global Market Leader

100 Years of Ottobock

23.2. — 29.12.2019

This special ex­​hi­​bi­​tion coincides with the company’s anni­ver­sary and emphasises its vibrancy and forward-looking focus. “You start first, and then you optimize and optimize and optimize” – this quote from a 2017 interview with Hans Georg Näder sums up the constant drive for inno­vation that has been the motto of each of the three entre­preneurs: Otto Bock (1888–1953), who founded the company and was a pioneer in the industrial fabrication of prostheses; Max Näder (1915–2009), a trend­setter in the field of ortho­paedic technology who achieved brilliant engineering feats; and Hans Georg Näder (born in 1961), a global player, driving force for digitisation and lateral thinker who continues to push boundaries.

Visitors experience a striking introduction to the ex­​hi­​bi­​tion’s theme with “Kriegskrüppel” (“War Cripples”), a street scene depicting soldiers who are fitted with inadequate prosthetic devices. Otto Dix’s drastic look at post-war realities illus­trates the stark situation that inspired the founding of “Orthopädische Industrie Berlin” just a few months after the end of World War I. The new company’s aim was to rev­olu­tion­ise the field of pros­thetic treat­ment.

The exhibition covers three floors, and its works touch on various aspects of the company’s ongoing history. Techno­log­ical mile­stones over the course of 100 years help visitors under­stand the fundamental changes that the fabrication process has under­gone – from a milled wooden leg to a high-tech electronic prosthesis and all the way to a 3D printed orthosis. Stories from individual users also give visitors a feel for what everyday life is like with pros­theses and orthoses.

Contemporary insights make the ex­​hi­​bi­​tion a fas­​ci­​nat­​ing trip through time. The company con­​tin­​u­​al­​ly faced new chal­​lenges during the fateful years in German history between the Weimar Republic and Germany’s re­​uni­​fication. Decisive factors today include the social trends of the 21st century: glob­​al­​i­​sa­​tion, demographic changes, the digital revolution and global mi­​gra­​tion.

A separate ex­​hi­​bi­​tion area in the adjacent “Erdhaus” building picks up on the topic of flight, migration and new beginnings. Titled “Vom Weggehen und Ankommen” (“Of Departures and Arrivals”), this exhibit covers the story of the dis­​place­​ment of the Bock und Näder families following World War II, portrays the ex­​pe­​ri­​ences of three migrant families in Berlin and uses the professional biographies of individual Ottobock employees to highlight the flow of people’s movements in a globalised working world. Finally, the topic of mi­​gra­​tion is examined from an artistic perspective in the video installation “Mapping Journey” (2008—2011) by Moroccan-French artist Bouchra Khalili.