Mesnay is a village of between 500 and 600 inhabitants situated on the River Cuisance due east of Arbois in the Jura. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries water-power derived from the river stimulated the growth of many industries, corn mills, oil mills, the manufacture of iron tools and above all of paper making. Such was the prosperity of these industries that the population of Mesnay between the 1790s and the 1860s never fell below 1,000.
The museum describes the manufacture of cardboard and its application to the production of cartons. It is housed in a substantial building on a site where the manufacture of paper and card began in 1710. Many machines used to manufacture cartons have been preserved and some are demonstrated. From the late nineteenth century industry in the area was dominated by the company Hétier Père et Fils (Hétier & Son) established in 1888 by Jean-Baptiste Hétier, who brought under his control all the producers of paper and card in the vicinity, creating an enterprise that was of national significance. The company contracted from about 1960, most factories had ceased operation by the 1980s, and the last mill making cardboard closed in 2001. There is also an exhibition about bees in the museum building, which is a popular venue for cultural events.