Chazelles sur Lyon is a small town 50 km south-west of Lyons, whose population is currently rather less than 5000. From the 16th century until the late 1970s the townspeople specialised in the manufacture of hats, particularly of fashionable hats for ladies. When the industry was at its peak in the early 1930s there were 30 factories in the town employing 2500 workers.
The museum, established in the former hat factory of Jules Blanchard, a building of 1910 with an imposing chimney, displays many aspects of hat making from the early 18th century to the late 20th, showing how rabbit fur could be transformed into fashionable headwear. There are videos showing factories working in Chazelles sur Lyon in the third quarter of the 20th century, and live demonstrations of some of the processes. Marketing aspects are illustrated by a boutique of the kind in which hats made in the town were sold in Paris and other large cities.