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Constructed during the 1920s as a holder for gas, the Gasometer Oberhausen was almost torn down in the 1990s as many saw it as a giant eyesore on the German city.
Yet it was saved, and now its 384-foot cylinder space hosts monumental art installations.
The first exhibition was held in 1994 and was, appropriately, on the history of industry in the region. Since then, it’s hosted such installations as Christo’s massive inflatable “Big Air Package” in 2013.
While its role as an art space is important, the Gasometer represents the peak of technology associated with coal/gas storage. It has the classic shape of a tar sealed gasholder. A piston, built into the gasometer would move within a cylinder allowing the volume stored to increase, while maintaining only a small positive pressure. This is controlled by a seal of viscous coal tar between the cylinder and piston.
These types of devices are now antiques, as those that function are almost inclusively tied to furnace complexes. The re-purposing of the area as an art space will ensure that this important relic of coal carbonization is maintained for posterity.