The town of Roubaix in the French part of Flanders was already a centre of textile production in 1469 when it was granted the privilege of weaving coarse woollen fabrics. The right to weave fine yarns was held by the nearby city of Lille with which Roubaix maintained a fierce rivalry over the centuries. Roubaix was already known internationally for its textiles when ancient privileges relating to manufacturing were abolished during the French Revolution in 1791. At the same time new technologies for textile production were introduced through which Roubaix prospered, its population increasing from 8,000 in 1800 to 124,000 a century later. The textile industry specialised in furnishing fabrics and continued to prosper, exporting to most parts of the world, until decline came from the 1960s.
The textile museum is centred on the company founded by Israel Jean-Baptiste Craye in 1880. It originated as the Musée du Jacquard in 2001, moved to a new site in 2008, and gained its present name in 2009. Its displays illustrate every aspect of the textile industry in Flanders. Workshop sessions in which visitors can gain experience in weaving are a special feature.