As the first and largest industrial museum in the whole of Germany we are proud to be able to research and present the cultural heritage of the industrial age. Our most outstanding exhibits are our building monuments, and our greatest interest is devoted to the people who worked and lived in and around the factories.
The museum was founded in 1979 by the Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (LWL), the regional authority for the Eastern part of North Rhine-Westphalia, in order to prevent the history of the industrial era in that state from falling into oblivion. The museum consists of three collieries, one blast furnace plant, a ship lift, a textile factory, a brickworks and a glassworks – all left on their original sites. The buildings, machines and inventories have been – and are still being – restored at great expense, and form the centre of our museum activities. Here our visitors are also able to “grasp” industrial heritage literally by weaving textiles and shaping bricks with their own hands, trying to lift a heavy mechanical pick and blowing glass through a glassmaker’s blowpipe. And: We are not “just” a museum, but also a forum for the many different cultures in the region: art, theatre, music etc.
The engine house of the Zollern colliery in Dortmund with its impressive Jugendstil architecture. In 1969 the rescue of this extraordinary steel and glass building had marked the beginning of industrial conservation in Germany and the birth of industrial heritage.