Ivanovo, 300 km north-east of Moscow was known in the eighteenth century as a centre of flax production, but diversified into other textiles. It incorporated several neighbouring communities from 1871, and was known as the ‘Russian Manchester’, and also as ‘the city of brides’ since most workers in factories were young women. Some 30,000 people were employed in the textile industry in the early twentieth century, many of them suffering appalling living and working conditions. The industry collapsed after the October Revolution but revived in 1920s. There has been further contraction since the end of the USSR.
The museum is located in the mansion of Dmitri Burylin (1852-1924) who developed the production of cotton prints, or chintz (sitels in Russian), initially for Slav women who by tradition covered their heads with scarves. Displays show the development of calico printing from simple wood blocks on linen fabrics, and the beginnings of machine printing on imported cotton fabrics. Machines used in printing chintz are exhibited, along with large numbers of sample fabrics, and photographs of workers from the early years of the twentieth century. One room is devoted to portraits of the Burylin family.