The museum occupies a silk spinning mill built in 1836-8 – the first in the region to use steam – that continued until 1965. By the middle of the nineteenth century, half the population of Saint-Jean-du-Guard was employed in the silk industry and there were 23 producers. The museum stands in a park in the centre of a block between Rue de l’Industrie, Grand Rue and the river – the pedestrian entrance is at 5 Rue de l’Industrie and the car park is off Grand Rue.
The museum focuses on the social history and traditional culture of the Cévennes from the seventeenth century to twentieth. It began with a private collection displayed from the 1960s. The local authority acquired the silk mill in 2002 and the museum opened there in 2017 after a large redevelopment project that combined sensitive conservation of the fine original architecture with striking new interventions. Many silk-industry artefacts are presented as well as displays about agriculture, religion, domestic life and material culture. The park has interpretation panels about the factory buildings.