The town of Crimmitschau lies on the River Pleisse about 17 km north-west of Zwickau. Domestic textile manufacturing flourished in the region in the early 19th century, but from the 1850s production was concentrated in factories to such an extent that by 1900 the town was regarded as the ‘stadt der 100 Schomstein’ (the town of 100 chimneys).
The textile museum, which is part of the Sächsisches Industriemuseum (The Saxony museum of industry), is located in a factory built by the firm of Pfau Brothers (Gebruder Pfau). The company originated in 1859 when Friedrich and Antoni Pfau set up a hand-weaving business in Leipziger Strasse, where in 1885 they built a four-storey factory for the manufacture of woollen fabrics. The company flourished and in the 1890s had a world-wide market for its products. Friedrich Pfau passed the business to his sons Otto and Adolph in 1899, when the name Gebruder Pfau was adopted. Between August 1903 and June 1904 the workers in the mill embarked on a strike that had repercussions throughout Germany.
Crimmitschau was damaged by bombing during the Second World War but production was quickly resumed in 1945, and in the late 1950s a market for the factory’s woollen cloth was established in Western Europe. The company remained in family ownership until 1972. The factory was declared a protected monument in 1990, and in 1993 an association was established with the aim of developing it as a textile museum. Restoration of the building began in 1996 and the project was completed in 2003.
Visitors to the museum are able to see the various floors of the factory as they would have been in the early years of the 20th century, with woollen yarn being spun on mules, and woven into fabrics on power looms. There are also displays illustrating broader aspects of the development of the textile industry in Saxony, and the ways of life of millworkers in Crimmitschau.