Date: 7th September, 2017
Location: Excalibur City, Chvalovice–Hatě 182 CZ – 669 02 Znojmo, Czech Republic

Just across the border at Kleinhaugsdorf from Austria to the Czech Republic on the Czech side is the Excalibur City Shopping Centre.

Part of the Excalibur City shopping centre
Part of the Excalibur City shopping centre

It is owned by Ronald Seunig who has been collecting jukeboxes for many years. He has long searched for a suitable place to house his jukebox collection, but then decided to build his own ‘time-travel’ museum in the Shopping Centre complex to house them.  There are now more than 600 jukeboxes, numerous arcade games, and – more importantly for us – around 200 pinball machines in his 6,000m² (65,000 sq ft) building, named Terra Technica.

Promotional banners for the grand opening
Promotional banners for the grand opening
The road to the Terra Technica building
The road to the Terra Technica building

The pinball machines come from Günter Freinberger, while the arcade games are provided by Andranik Ghalustians.

The Terra Technica museum is split into six sectors, each representing a different period of time.

Zone 1 – 1880 to 1920

This starts in the pre-jukebox era, where people still enjoyed recorded music.  The museum wants to show how people listened to music during these years – such as via the Edison cylinder players.

Music players of various types
Music players of various types
Player pianos, gramophones and other music players
Player pianos, gramophones and other music players
A coin-operated orchestrion
A coin-operated orchestrion

Zone 2 – 1920s to 1930s

This was the time when the amplifier was invented by John Gabel and the first selective jukeboxes were produced, meaning each recording no longer needed a separate needle and pickup for each recording.

Jukeboxes were pieces of furniture and mainly built by carpenters.  The familiar names of Wurlitzer, Rock-Ola, Seeburg and AMI came to prominence, with Wurlitzer having special success.

Early jukeboxes were built like pieces of furniture
Early jukeboxes were built like pieces of furniture

Pre-flipper bagatelle games were also made popular during this time.

Pre-flipper games
Pre-flipper games
The famous Ballyhoo game
The famous Ballyhoo game

Zone 3 – 1938 to 1948: The Golden Age

This is the so-called Golden Age, possibly due to the introduction of materials such as Catalin and Bakelite which allowed shiny, bright colours to the jukebox.

Jukeboxes are getting to be real eye-catchers and become extremely popular, especially in the US.

Rock-Ola produces the Tone Column jukebox, with the rare ‘Mystic Muse’ model and the war-time ‘President’ of which only three were produced.

Brightly-coloured jukeboxes on display include the Rock Ola Tone Column
Brightly-coloured jukeboxes on display include the Rock-Ola Tone Column
The Rock Ola Mystic Music jukebox
The Rock-Ola Mystic Music jukebox
A unique Rock Ola exhibit?
A unique Rock-Ola exhibit?
More colourful jukeboxes alongside the Humpty Dumpty and Singapore games
More colourful jukeboxes alongside the Humpty Dumpty and Singapore games

Zone 4 – 1950s to 1960s: The Silver Age

This is called the ‘Silver Age’ because of all the chrome trim found on jukeboxes from this era.

Jukeboxes started having much larger selections of recordings, with Seeburg’s revolutionary M100A model increasing the choice from the standard 24 tracks up to 100.

In addition, the record changing and playing mechanisms became much more visible instead of being hidden inside the cabinet.

Artists such as Elvis, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles along with many others helped make the jukebox very popular and iconic.

A warm welcome awaits from Elvis tribute act, Rusty
A warm welcome awaits from Elvis tribute act, Rusty
Chrome everywhere
Chrome everywhere
Pinballs include Flipper Parade, Slick Chick, Gigi, and Egg Head
Pinballs include Flipper Parade, Slick Chick, Gigi, and Egg Head
Gottlieb's Ice-Revue from 1965
Gottlieb’s Ice-Revue from 1965

Zone 5 – 1970s and up: Super Heroes

You walk downstairs to reach Sector 5, where you find the electronic pinball machines with more vivid colours and the ability to play basic music.

Jukeboxes, meanwhile, made the record-playing mechanism less visible, turning it more into an enclosed console.

An upscale living room from the era
An upscale living room from the era

This was also the era of disco where DJs played the music, making jukeboxes less popular.  Seeburg’s response was to build huge, powerful speakers.

Huge jukebox speakers are introduced to help attract customers
Huge jukebox speakers are introduced to help attract customers
Seeburg jukeboxes
Seeburg jukeboxes

The original Batmobile from the 1989 Batman movie starring Michael Keaton is here in the museum, surrounded by super hero statues and matching pinball machines such as Batman 66 Super LE, Iron Man, Superman, Hulk, etc.

Batman, Batgirl and the Batmobile
Batman, Batgirl and the Batmobile
The Batmobile
The Batmobile

More European companies (especially in Germany and France) got more into the Jukebox business, producing multiple models with large numbers of music choices for use in urban locations, and smaller selections for more rural sites.

Rock-Ola was the only company which produced nine totally different designs with 100 or 160 music selections.  Other companies merely changed the interior mechanisms for their various models.

Pinballs were becoming increasingly popular now, introducing licensed themes such as Buck Rogers, The Rolling Stones and Kiss.

From one high speed model to another
From one high speed model to another

Finally, jukeboxes began to change from playing records to using CDs.

Zone 6 – The New Era: The Removal of Jukeboxes

CDs are now common as a music format, leading to modern replicas of classic designs appearing.

Microprocessors became far more powerful, making pinball increasingly digitally inside.

LEDs begin to replace incandescent lamps, making pinball machines much brighter and colourful.

In addition to these zones, there is also a 800m² area for video games, including arcade machines, consoles, handhelds and home computers.  There are also a few computer game-themed pinballs such as Space Invaders, Super Mario Bros and Street Fighter II.

The original thoughts about creating a gaming museum are more that twenty years old, but the project began with a non-working jukebox which Ronald Seunig wanted to have to repair.

Construction of the Terra Technica building began in May 2016.  Gabor Varga (a.k.a. Flipperdoktor) is the museum chief.

The museum always tries to evoke the atmosphere of each era with all the nice decorations and furniture they put in, such as a ’70s-style living room. Several different automobiles from the different time spans are also located around the museum.

A model 'A' Ford
A model ‘A’ Ford
A custom AG Excalibur car featuring Swarovsky crystals
A custom AG Excalibur car featuring Swarovsky crystals

The jukeboxes in the museum come from 17 different countries, and there is a specially-designed jukebox carousel which can be stopped by visitors. Press the button and it pauses for 30 seconds.

There is also a separate cinema museum with screening room and an adults-only area near the three Playboy pinballs, featuring a Big Dick game.

More-or-less everything in the museum is printed in three languages (English, Czech and German).

Even the signs in the lavatories are in three languages
Even the signs in the lavatories are in three languages

For the opening party – which went on long into the night – several big stars made appearances.

  • Elvis
  • The Beatles
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • Catwoman
  • Waterloo & Robinson – playing together for the first time in many years
  • Jazz Giti – a local Austrian star
  • Thomas David – a music star who won the TV talent show The Big Chance in 2013
Elvis tribute artist, Rusty
Elvis tribute artist, Rusty
The Unlimited Beatles Show
The Unlimited Beatles Show
Waterloo & Robinson
Waterloo & Robinson
More live music
More live music
Party guests chat with Terra Technica owner, Ronald Seunig, in the museum's entrance
Party guests chat with Terra Technica owner, Ronald Seunig, in the museum’s entrance
Ronald goes over some of the party's plans with two of the staff members
Ronald goes over some of the party’s plans with two of the staff members

The official opening of Terra Technica is on 23rd September, 2017.

Admission prices are:

  • Adult €15 incl. 2 tokens for playing the games
  • Child €7.50 incl. 2 tokens for playing the games

(1 token = 1 game)

Terra Technica at night
Terra Technica at night
Fireworks to celebrate the launch party
Fireworks to celebrate the launch party

Have a look around Terra Technica with this Twenty-Four Minute museum tour.

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