This museum is managed by the local authority and based in Lisburn’s seventeenth century market hall. Its purpose is ‘to present, preserve and interpret through collection, research, exhibitions and educational programmes the Irish linen industry and the history and heritage of Lisburn and district’.
For more than two centuries Lisburn was an important centre of linen manufactures. William Coulson (1739-1801) established a damask weaving factory, using hand looms, in Lisburn in 1764; his company split in two in 1830s under his sons. Both branches continued into the twentieth century but closed in the 1950s. The museum has a permanent exhibition ‘Flax to Fabric – the story of Irish Linen’ and there are practical demonstrations by expert weavers. There are several reconstructions of interiors of weavers’ cottages, and displays of high quality Lisburn fabrics that have been used in high fashion. The collection of paintings includes works by Joseph W Carey (1859-1937), and there are photographic collections illustrating the linen trade, examples from which have been published in the museum’s popular advent calendars.