A converted office building, a disused factory, an opulently furnished historic merchant’s house and a spacious modern new building. From the outside alone it is evident that the Remscheid German Tool Museum and historic centre unites both past and present. Inside you can see almost everything to do with the history of tool making in Germany and central Europe from a stone-age hand axe to computer-controlled machines. The star exhibits are the world’s first production furnace for electric steel (1906) and the pilot plant built in 1891 by the Remscheid Mannesmann company to produce seamless pipes. Indeed the central theme of the museum is the industrialisation of tool making. Which stages in technological progress marked the path from hand-forged files to mechanical file cutting? What did this mean for the workers concerned? How are precision tools and highly specialised machine tools made today? In helping to provide the answers the museum also includes other centres of tool making in Germany, and deals with the development of marketing and trade. The tools made in Remscheid were sold overseas and for a time this earned Remscheid the nickname of “the coastal town on the hill”. Historic workshops and factory scenarios make a trip round the museum a fascinating experience and there are plenty of opportunities for visitors to handle exhibits and try them out.
The merchant’s house on the museum site was built in 1778 and reflects the early success of the local trade. In 1925 the foundation stone of a small local museum was laid for what was to become a constantly growing collection of tools. This eventually led to the opening of the German Tool Museum in 1970. It was converted and extended in 1996 to accommodate an up-to-date museum concept which shows the transformation in tool making as an example of the radical effects of industrialisation.