The framework: a listed factory building from around the turn of the 20th century. Inside: innovative products of Saxon industrial history, the major ones highlighted on a silver strip. The exhibits cover more than 200 years, from the beginning of industrialization to this day. There are, for example, DKW vehicles, a brand that made automotive history with the invention of the front-wheel drive car type F1. Also on display: a fully operational transmission driven workshop from the early 20th century. Or newer: a smoothly funtioning robot system that served the Volkswagen plant at Zwickau until 2012 to weld together car bodies. The examples indicate that the live demonstration of machines is a focal point of the museum. In the basement, where the textile tools are located, an entire production line is switched on, illustrating the century-old history of the Saxon textile industry by automatically spinning, knitting and weaving. One of the highlights of this fascinating tour is the factory‘s engine house with its attractive frescos, complete with a steam engine built in 1896 that goes into action several times a year.
A tin full of holes and some blotting paper from her son’s exercise book was all that Melitta Benz from Dresden in Saxony needed to patent the first coffee filter in the world around 1908. At the time Saxony was one of the most productive industrial hubs of Europe. Small and middle range companies predominated, but there were also major names like the DKW and August Horch automotive factories, the Meissener Porcelain company, the camera makers Zeiss Ikon in Dresden and not least the traditional publishing and printing firms in Leipzig. Starting in the mid 19th century Chemnitz developed into an important textiles centre. Everything that was made here - from stockings, gloves, knitwear, ballroom robes and costumes to the extravagant fashions of the Roaring Twenties – was sent all over the world.
The machines which were needed for the work – like complicated automatic knitting machines – were also made in Chemnitz factories, one of which belonged to Hermann und Alfred Escher. In 1907 they built a four-shed foundry and assembly hall in the old industrial area of Chemnitz. And to emphasise their claims to social status they had the engine house, which was also a part of the complex, magnificently decorated with friezes running round the walls that were decorared with two huge picures. Around 100 workers were employed here until 1930 turning out cast-steel parts for machines. After the Second World War production was taken over by the state-owned Rudolf Harlaß foundry. When the firm relocated to a modern foundry in 1982 the old industrial buildings were abandoned to their own fate. Until May 1990. At that time the whole complex was scheduled to be blown up and preliminary holes had been drilled into the walls to hold the explosives (these can still be seen today). But at the last minute the complex was saved from demolition. In 1995 it was decided to clean up the old factory site and turn it into a museum. Now Chemnitz is one of four sites belonging to the Industrial Museum of Saxony.
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Tuesday - Friday 9am-5pm
Saturday, Sunday, bank holiday 10am-5pm