Collecting, procuring, evaluating, viewing, storing, and preserving – this is what goes on in the 800-square-meter Opel Media Archive in the old factory in Rüsselsheim, Germany. Six archivists keep Opel history alive in rolling stacks and on hard drives: They ‘live’ Opel. Archives are usually thought of as old and dusty places, but that’s hardly the case here. There isn’t time for dust to gather in this space, as the Opel Media Archive is in a state of perpetual motion.
This motion echoes the development of the Opel company. And a lot happens here in the archive, too. The archivists are actively involved in every product introduction and every event, providing relevant background information to internal as well as external communicators, journalists, and fans of the brand.
‘Living’ Opel is very important to the team. “We didn’t actually have to do anything for the big Employee Sales day in November. But it was an honor for us to be able to celebrate the Mokka X, the new Zafira, and the Ampera-e on-site. It was incredible,” says Carmen Russo, the head of the Media Archive.
DIGITALIZATION OF THE PHOTO LIBRARY
Carmen Russo and her team have been carrying out archival work on the company’s communications for more than 20 years. Two members of the team focus exclusively on bringing the archive up to speed with the digital era; they are digitalizing the photo material currently available in printed form (and there’s a lot of it). In this day and age, there’s no getting around making these files accessible on electronic media, too.
Although numerous documents and objects were destroyed over the course of the eventful company history, many gems from the company’s beginnings have remained intact. Carmen Russo is especially proud of Adam Opel’s travel diary, which documents his trips from 1857 to 1862. It shows how intensively the company founder worked to permanently expand his horizons: “that’s the same spirit that still distinguishes the best managers – and our company – today.”
‘LIVING’ OPEL IN THE ARCHIVE
Working in the archive provides opportunities to learn about Opel every day. For example, in March, legendary Opel designer George Gallion visited the classic workshop and thrilled illustrious crowds of 50 Opel fans apiece for two evenings. “Getting to look into the models that he had worked on again in advance was incredibly fascinating,” recalls Carmen Russo. Gallion was father to the Manta, among other classics.
However, the archivists are no less preoccupied with the present than they are with the past. Since Opel now needs to communicate via more and more types of media, there is more work for the archivists now, not less. That will especially be the case in 2017, what with ‘7 in 17.’ Moreover, the Opel communicators are happy to forward requests from clubs and private individuals to the archive. Carmen Russo and her team also like to accept these: “We are very much looking forward to the large product launch – we can add the roots or DNA of our products and company to the mix.”
The Archive in Figures
150,000 photos are stored in the Opel archive. The archivists are currently working to fully digitalize this collection.
3,000 brochures summarize everything worth knowing about the Opel models – and everything that’s fun to know.
1,500 press kits document automotive history from 1933 onwards.
1,700 speech manuscripts remind researchers of what Opel stars had to say at all kinds of occasions. The oldest of these manuscripts dates back to 1929.
1,500 advertisements illustrate how informatively – and how imaginatively – Opel marketing experts present their products to customers.
Last revised: December 2016