Glass manufacturing in Germany flourished in the mid-19th century. Petershagen in the north-west of North Rhine-Westphalia was no exception. Here the Gernheim glassworks was one of the most important factories in north-west Germany for a time. A monumental conical tower on the banks of the River Weser recalls the period between 1812 and 1877 when glass from Gernheim was exported all over the world via the harbour in Bremen. If you rummage around in the attic of the basketmaking house you can find a huge number of different glass products like preserving jars, laboratory equipment, petroleum lamps and perfume bottles. The permanent exhibition documents the living and working conditions of glass workers in the early period of industrialisation.
The Glass Museum is simultaneously a building monument and a museum featuring exhibitions of glass art and demonstrations. Today visitors to Gernheim can see genuine glass being made once again just as it was over a century ago. The main procedures in the manufacture of glass, from the mixing of the raw materials via the firing in the kiln (temperatures can reach as high as 1600 degrees) to the finished product are demonstrated in a number of different buildings. A smelting kiln has been partially rebuilt in the glass tower according to old construction plans, and museum glassmakers can be seen hard at work resuscitating old techniques at the small studio kiln.