The leather industry flourished in the town of Offenbach on the River Main 10 km east of Frankfurt over many years. From the eighteenth century small firms called ‘Babbscher’ produced high quality purses, bags, trunks, boxes and portfolios that were displayed in chain stores as ‘Offenbacher Lederwaren’.
The German Leather Museum was founded by Professor Hugo Ebehardt and opened in 1917 and moved into its present premises, a warehouse in the classical style on the western side of the town, in 1939. It now combines three museums, the Shoe Museum, whose collections include examples of footwear from all over the world, the Museum of Applied Art which demonstrates how leather has been used over the centuries by craftsmen and designers, and the Ethnological Museum, which concentrates on the use of leather Africa, America and Asia. The museum organises special exhibitions on many leather-related topics. While it is now a multi-section anthropological museum which is international in its outlook, it nevertheless has many exhibits that relate to leather manufactures in Offenbach.