The historical museum tells the story of Bielefeld from its foundation by Count Hermannn of Ravensberg in 1214 to the present. It is located in the former Ravensberger spinning mill and its main focus is on the city’s industrial heritage. Some spinning and weaving machines are still in place and there are also displays concerning the celebrated Dürkopp sewing machines that were made in the city, on Bielefeld’s bicycle manufacturers and on the food additives company established by Dr August Oetker (1862-1918) who began to manufacture baking powder at a chemist’s shop in 1891.
The linen trade was established in Bielefeld in the seventeenth century, and in 1768 a bleach works became the city’s first joint stock company. Manufacturing of all kinds was stimulated by the opening in 1847 of the Cologne-Minden railway. The city’s first mechanical spinning mill was opened in 1851. Three years later Hermann Delius (1819-94) established the Ravensberger Spinnerei. Mechanical engineering and other industries followed. The Ravensberger mill closed in 1974 and the Historical Museum opened on the premises in 1994.