The museum presents the history of industry, technology and everyday life in Schleswig-Holstein. Elmshorn became an important industrial centre in the nineteenth century, especially for the food industries but also leather, textiles, ceramics and shipbuilding. The museum is in a five-storey former warehouse in the town centre that was built around 1890 by Christian Hinrich Carstens to trade in household goods. It was used by general merchants for a century until the city of Elmshorn acquired it in 1988 for an industrial museum. The ground floor shows the history of cotton textiles, communications, the local leather industry and the craft of processing fish skins to make fine-quality book covers and handbags. On the first floor are displays of shipbuilding, flour milling and shoemaking. The second floor has displays of domestic equipment, the Carstens stoneware factory and the speciality of preparing goods to supply overseas colonies. The top floor concentrates on social history.