The framework: a listed factory building from around the turn of the 20th century. Inside: an exhibition split up under striking headlines like “Consumers”, “Entrepreneurs” “Workers”, “Creators” and “Karl-Marx-Stadt inhabitants”. Faces stare down from the walls; historical, contemporary, famous and unknown. The message is clear. The Industrial Museum of Saxony in Chemnitz (formerly known as Karl-Marx-Stadt) is not just about machinery, but men and women. For they were the ones who made the industries of Saxony great in the 19th century. Just how great can be seen from the huge variety of exhibits ranging all the way from a steam locomotive to intricate lace collars. Visitors are right in the middle of the action because museum workers are constantly on hand to give working demonstrations of textile and tool machines. A complete “street” of textile machines spins, knits and weaves the history of the textile industry in Saxony through the centuries, whilst multi-media information terminals explain the connections and illuminate the background. The high point of this fascinating tour is the old factory engine house with its attractive frescos, complete with a steam engine built in 1896 that goes into action several times a week.
A tin full of holes and some blotting paper from her son’s exercise book was all that Melitta Benz from Dresden in Saxony needed to patent the first coffee filter in the world around 1908. At the time Saxony was one of the most productive industrial centres of Europe. Small and middle range firms predominated, but there were also major names like the August Horch motor car factory in Zwickau, the Meissener Porcelain company, the camera makers Zeiss Ikon in Dresden and not least the traditional publishing and printing firms in Leipzig. Starting in the mid 19th century Chemnitz developed into an important textiles centre. Everything that was made here - from stockings, gloves, knitwear, ballroom robes and costumes to the extravagant fashions of the Roaring Twenties – was sent all over the world.
The machines which were needed for the work – like complicated automatic knitting machines – were also made in Chemnitz factories, one of which belonged to Hermann und Alfred Escher. In 1907 they built a four-shed foundry and assembly hall in the old industrial area of Chemnitz. And to emphasise their claims to social status they had the engine house, which was also a part of the complex, magnificently decorated with friezes running round the walls that were painted with huge frescos. Around 100 workers were employed here until 1930 turning out cast-steel parts for machines. After the Second World War production was taken over by the state-owned Rudolf Harlaß foundry. When the firm relocated to a modern foundry in 1982 the old industrial buildings were abandoned to their own fate. Until May 1990. At that time the whole complex was scheduled to be blown up and preliminary holes had been drilled into the walls to hold the explosives (these can still be seen today). But at the last minute the complex was saved from demolition. In 1995 it was decided to clean up the old factory site and turn it into a museum. Now Chemnitz is one of four sites belonging to the Industrial Museum of Saxony.
|Recommended duration of visit:||1-3 Hours|
|Duration of a guided Tour:||90 Minutes|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||Available|
|Infrastructure for Children:|
|Visitor centre on site:||yes|
|Gift and book shop on Site:||yes|
Tuesday - Sunday, public holiday 10am-6pm