Mönchengladbach was the principal textile-manufacturing centre in north-west Germany in the nineteenth century. Cotton spinning was established in the city in 1807 when English products could not be imported into Germany because of Napoleon’s Continental System. In 1863 Mönchengladbach’s textile industry was said to be flourishing greatly, and it was sometimes called the ‘Manchester of the Rhineland’. Visitors from the United Kingdom travelling to the Rhineland were greeted at the station by a gigantic cotton mill in the Gothic style. The industry has declined since the mid-twentieth century but some textile companies still have their administrative quarters and research facilities in the city even if production has moved elsewhere.
The textile museum in the former Monforts Maschinenfabrik in the Monfort Quarter of the city opened in 2015. It includes blue dye equipment and flax-processing machines, a spinning mule of 1850 by C E Schwalbe of Werdau from Cromford, Ratingen, a loom of 1910 by Robert Hall of Bury, and a Jacquard loom. There is a steam engine of 1901 made by Otto Recke which came from the linen and jute mills of P W Blancke in Hinsberg. The history of the city’s textile industries is illustrated with numerous photographs.
Mönchengladbach’s art museum was established in 1904 and built up a comprehensive collection of twentieth century paintings broken up in 1937 since it was regarded by the Nazis as degenerate art. A new building, the Abteiberg designed by Hans Hollein (1934-2014), opened in 1982 and was re-constructed in 2006-07. The museum fosters links between the city’s textile industries and practising artists and it holds collections of textile patterns and samples made before TextilTechnikum opened.