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Electro-Mechanical Museum
A view of the Electro-Mechanical Museum | Photo by Sandra Schulman

A leading Riviera Beach environmental group hasopened an electrifying curiosity – the first Electro-Mechanical Museum in South Florida. RGF Environmental Group is the creatorof advanced environmental products providing the world with the safest air, water, and food without the use of chemicals. This truly Go Green group has a large office and manufacturing facility in Riviera Beach complete with ponds, waterfalls, peacocks, a factory that looks like a greenhouse and now its own in-house Electro Mechanical Museum that celebrates technology and innovation.  The museum starts with the earliest developments of electrical machines from the 1700s and spans to the most advanced X-ray technologies of the 1900s.

It also has its own curator – Jeff Behary – who gave an informative and fascinating tour to the press on opening day February 23. Starting with a friendly welcome brunch out by the company’s lagoon stocked with giant Koi fish, ducks, and a pair of elegant peacocks, we were taken on a tour of the museum and then the offices and factory.

Curator Behary has been collecting pieces of rare vintage equipment for many years and on exhibit is “about a fifth of what we have” he says. On display is 642 pieces of rare antiquities with all kinds of cool retro coils and boxes and wire filled contraptions by world-renowned inventors such as Thomas Kinraide, Sir William Crookes, George Westinghouse, Benjamin Franklin and Nikola Tesla.

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The vintage equipment is of high interest to RGF as it represents precursors to the company’s technology with some of the world’s earliest UV lamps, ion (static electricity) generators and the oldest American-made electrical transformers.  These items have been featured on the History Channel’s “Modern Marvels,” Travel Channel’s “Mysteries at the Museum,” and National Geographic’s “American Genius” and many other documentaries around the world. Behary gets called when films are looking for vintage contraptions to create authentic movie sets. It’s a truly unique kind of job, and the affable Behary has a wide knowledge of the archives, auctions, and other electric based history museums nationwide.

“The purpose of this Electro-Mechanical Museum is to preserve these rare early technologies and inspire future generations of innovators,” said Ron Fink, RGF President/CEO.  “The historical technology showcased at the museum led to the innovative technology used today at RGF.  From the light bulb to the X-ray, invention embodies the American spirit and we are delighted to share these antiquities with residents and visitors of Palm Beach County.”

Photos of the Electro-Mechanical Museum

After a walk around tour of the museum, the best demonstration was that of static electricity on a large generator dating back decades that looks like a fancy wood carved china cabinet. A brave female company volunteer stood on a raised platform as Behary hand cranked a lever that began to generate the flow. Within seconds as we watched the woman’s hair began to rise up straight off of her head. She said through her laughter that she could also feel the tingling electricity down her arms.

More electro cool was demonstrated by the Tesla coils the museum has in its collection. Nikola Tesla, who has had a resurgence in geek cool popularity the last few decades, was a Serbian born physicist and futurist who helped design the modern alternating current electricity supply system. Behary turned off the lights in the museum and turned on some of the coils he has to illuminate a neon tube that spells out Tesla’s name.

As cool as the Electro-Mechanical Museum is, a tour of the whole RGF facility really completes the picture. More of the vintage items they own are dotted around the offices which lead out to the massive factory. Dozens of workers were buzzing around various machines and tables in the huge warehouse that was festooned with colorful prints of the birds and flowers on the property as well as large potted palms. Big bay doors were open all around, giving a breezy feel to the place. Big signs proclaim their products are “Proudly Made in the USA”, actually designed and made right here in the factory. We watched large laser machines cut out sheets of metal pieces which were then molded and assembled into air purifiers, just one of the many  products the company produces. They make over 500 products that clean air, water, and food from small desktop models to giant parts for offices buildings.

Their Advanced Oxidation Systems are proven and tested to be extremely effective in destroying mold, odors, bacteria, and virus. The company ships products to –  as opposed to importing from  – China. RGF Headquarters spans 7.5 acres, with 100,000 square feet of manufacturing, warehouse, and office facilities.

They even designed a bright green Lamborgreenie — a retrofitted Lamborghini car that uses clean electric to run and is shipped around the world to various technology and demonstration fairs the company participates in. The car sits in a lit up glass house, its doors and hood open for inspection.

The company is clearly connected to the past and the future of how technology advances and is committed to greening the planet and the products people use. On the way out they gave us each a desktop purifier called Guardian Air, a sleek black and silvery light up space age looking thing that has no fan, no moving parts, no filter, and oxidizes bacteria, mold, viruses, gases and odors. It uses broad spectrum light waves to create air ionization radiated in complete silence throughout the room.  I promptly plugged mine in when I got it home. By the morning I felt refreshed and a bit tingly, having dreamt of airwaves and blue electric sheep.

The Electro-Mechanical Museum is open to school groups and other organizations interested in the history of innovation and technology.  Admission to the Museum is complimentary and group visits can be arranged by calling Kelly Kendrick at 561-848-1826.  It is located at the RGF headquarters at 1101 W. 13th Street, Riviera Beach.

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Sandra-Schulman Sandra Schulman is an arts writer, music and film producer. Born in Miami, her work has appeared in Billboard, Variety, Rolling Stone, Ocean Drive, Country Music Magazine, The New York Daily News, News From Indian Country, and Entertainment Weekly. She was an entertainment columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for 8 years. She has authored three books on pop culture. She currently lives in West Palm Beach with her blue eyed whippet. Sandra Schulman’s column appears weekly. Contact her at sandraslink@gmail.com.