The Art of Mennonite Clocks at the MHV

Did you know that Mennonite Clocks are a thing? I had no idea, until I noticed a clock on the cover of The Historical Atlas of the East Reserve, and I asked about it. So, yes, “Mennonite clocks are a thing” and they’re stunning.

If you haven’t seen the exhibit at the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach, please make an effort to do so. The exhibit was put together by the MHV and the Kroeger Clocks Heritage Foundation and displays dozens of these amazing clocks, together with fascinating stories that accompany them.

A while back, I asked Kathleen Wiens about her perspective, working on this project, and it really gave me an appreciation for these works for art

The clocks are amazing to look at just on their own, but there is so much more than that. This exhibit is also a collection of stories. Even the fact that these clocks still exist, is a remarkable story in and of itself as many of them are centuries old and huge and heavy and would not have been that easy to transport… and if you think of the fact that many Mennonites had to vacate their premises pretty quickly, if you stop and consider the fact that they took the time to ensure they escaped with their cumbersome clock… I can’t help but wonder: Why? How? Who were these individuals, and what did their clocks mean to them?

The craftsmanship of the clocks is fantastic; there was real pride put into each piece, evidenced by the intricate details, and also how the clockmakers would often include their initials or names etched somewhere, hidden.

One of the clocks on display is working; it’s called the Living Clock. We were the only ones in the exhibit at the time, and so the only sound was the ticking of the one Living Mennonite Clock. Beautiful!

I’ll leave the details of these stories for you to explore on your own when you visit, but here is a glimpse:

This clock below was apparently hacked by the brutal anarchist and tormentor of the Mennonites, Nestor Makhno himself!

And this clock below was owned by Valentine Winkler (the founder of Winkler, Manitoba).

The artwork and decoration of these clocks are a fantastic example of Mennonite art, just like floor patterns. I can see why Kathleen called them “eye candy”!

A cityscape!

At the exhibit, you can leave a little card explaining which clock was your favourite and why. I chose this one as my favourite, because of its green colour — it reminds me of the kitchen at my great-grandmother’s house.

If you want to see these stunning clocks in person, you’re running out of time to do so; this exhibition closes April 30th. The collection of photos, videos, and stories of these clocks also continues to live on and grow online at the Kroeger Clocks website.