Arts & Culture

Discover All Things Regional in Central PA’s art and culture scene. Join hosts Cary Burkett and Joe Ulrich as they make artistic discoveries throughout the midstate. From music and visual arts to theatre, museums, literature and more! Listen every Wednesday and Friday on witf 89.5 and 93.3 for features highlighting the best and brightest cultural happenings in the region.

The History of Waking Up: National Watch and Clock Museum Alarm Clock Exhibit

Written by Joe Ulrich, Arts & Culture Desk and WITF Host | Apr 9, 2013 5:00 PM

Photo by Joe Ulrich

This alarm clock would strike a match at the desired time and light an oil lamp, the idea being that the light would help wake the person up. Unfortunately it would occasionally end up lighting houses on fire.

"Everyone can relate to that annoying alarm clock that wakes you up in the morning," says Katie Knaub, Museum Educator at the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, "We just wanted to create something that everyone can relate to."

The museum will be opening its Wake Up exhibit later this month with an exhaustive display of various alarm clocks from ancient times,to today. They've even got some rather quirky, and frankly dangerous, variations on early alarm clocks. One used the sun to light a fuse which fired a small canon. Another struck a match to light an oil lamp and sometimes caught houses on fire.


Photo by Joe Ulrich

This alarm clock was a sundial that, at the right time, would use a magnifying lens to catch the sun, light a fuse and fire the small canon.

The museum houses a thorough colletion of all types of timepieces, from sundials to wall clocks and digital watches. "We have a mission which is to tell the whole story," says Noel Poirier, the Director of the museum, "So our collection includes objects from all over the world, [an] Asian incense clock...right up to modern calculator wrist watches."

The Wake Up exhibit opens as part of their annual Wine and Chimes event on April 26 and is open to the general public on April 27.

See the gallery below for more alarm clocks on display at the National Watch and Clock Museum's Wake Up exhibit.

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  • kathryn.christiansen img 2013-04-10 05:41

    Want to give props to Joe for the music on this piece! Made me smile this morning. Is there a Spotify playlist?

    • Joe Ulrich img 2013-04-10 09:49

      Great idea, we're looking into it right now. Glad you enjoyed the flashback of old tunes!