A wooden vat and two rollers inside a seamless wire: this is what the world's first paper machine looks like. Visitors to the Laakirchen Museum of Papermaking and Print can see its replica in action. The technical relic is part of an exciting trip exploring the history of paper production - from the forerunners of paper to the modern paper industry. The setting is provided by the unique ambience of the former Steyrermühl paper mill, hosting several museums and exhibitions side by side. Visitors are free to collect hands-on experiences, for example by making their own hand-made paper as in pre-industrial times. The printing museum, showcasing machines that are still functional, offers the opportunity of operating a toggle press dating from 1878, while the lithography workshop right next to it is devoted to artistic printing techniques. The "Modern Paper" department focuses on audiovisual interpretation and tells, among other things, the story of the factory workers. A special museum deals with the history of local fire brigades, and the "ALFA" convention centre houses small and large events. Outdoor enthusiasts may complete the visit by taking a walk along the banks of the river Traun to the magnificent Gschröff historic power station.
The idea of constructing a paper machine crossed the mind of French inventor Nicholaus-Louis Robert in 1798 while working for the printer Pierre-Francois Didot. Until then, papermakers had been laboriously using fine-meshed sieves to draw sheet after sheet from a pulp of crushed rags and water before processing the product by pressing, drying, and smoothing. It took daily shifts of 15 hours to manufacture roughly 3,000 sheets of paper. Robert's machine instead produced continuous paper webs that were wound onto a roller, thus increasing the daily output to 100 kilograms of paper per day - a major step in those days. The mechanical principle of his invention is still in use today, but with up to 2,000 meters of paper per minute the operating speed is much higher. This rapid development is precisely what the Laakirchen Museum of Papermaking and Print is all about. It is located in a former factory that produced paper and cellulose from 1868 to 1988. The history of converting this industrial plant into a museum starts in 1993 with the Austrian Paper Museum Association, established by the former mayor of Laakirchen and Austrian Nationalrat Karl Neuwirth. The work of the new association means an unprecedented boost for the development of the site’s industrial heritage. In 1997, the Austrian Paper Museum officially opens to the public, followed in 2000 by the Printing Museum, and in 2003 the "ALFA" event centre was launched. In 2008, the Paper Museum is completely redesigned as part of a state exhibition - and is additionally upgraded by a pedestrian bridge over the Traun river. The river‘s role as a transport route and source of water is a main focus of the museum, which is underlined by the fact that the large windows of the former machine hall look directly on the Traun. Covering more than 4,000 square metres of exhibition and event space, the Austrian Paper Museum is an impressive example of the successful revitalisation of a former factory building.
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April to October:
Tuesday - Sunday 10am-4pm