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European première in
North-Rhine Westphalia:

The completion of the first, decentralised museum of industrial and social history!

Six sites = one museum: on 15th September 2000 the Rhineland Industrial Museum celebrated its completion with the opening of its sixth and last site, the Müller Cloth Factory in Euskirchen near Bonn! The construction period of one of the most important museum projects in Europe has therefore now reached its conclusion. The ‘Landschaftsverband Rheinland', the supporting authority of the Rhineland Industrial Museum, is taking over full responsibility for the running costs. Up to now the Region of North-Rhine Westphalia has contributed 90% of the cost of reconstructing the six important industrial monuments for use as museums.
"Workplace - Monument - Museum": this sequence of words sums up the career of each of the six sites which together make up the Rhineland Industrial Museum. The old factory walls now contain impressive permanent collections, all of which relate the history of the industrial era in the Rhineland. Fascinating exhibits from the worlds of metal, textiles and paper enrich the presentations in the museums in Oberhausen, Ratingen, Solingen, Bergisch Gladbach, Engelskirchen and Euskirchen. Each site is thus a unique museum experience!


Heavy Industry

The multifaceted history of the iron and steel industry in the Rhine and Ruhr regions is exhibited in the old Altenberg zinc factory in Oberhausen. One section of the exhibition deals with the history of this factory where zinc was processed into zinc plates. More than 1.500 exhibits, including ingot moulds, rollers, steam engines and an impressive ten metre high steam-hammer trace the development of the industry. Alongside coal, iron and steel was the leading industrial branch in the Ruhr area and its influence on the living and working conditions of the people can be felt even today.
The Oberhausen museum is also the headquarter of the Rheínisches Industriemuseum. It houses the management, administration, library, the photo archive and workshops. There is a special area for temporary exhibitions. Seminar rooms and the musuem cafe are also available for special events. In September 1999 we opened an exhibition in the old electricity centre dealing with urban provisions for gas, water and electricity. The museum also presents special exhibitions and hands-on activities for young people in the boiler house.

Peter Behrens building

Whilst in Oberhausen don't miss the Peter-Behrens building in the Essener Straße. Peter Behrens was a renowned architect and industrial designer, and his building was erected in the 1920s as the central storehouse of the Gutehoffnungshütte (Good Hope Mills). It is now the main depot of the Rheinisches Industriemuseum. An exhibition of the fifth floor of the building pays tribute to the creator of this significant contribution to 20th century architecture.

Antony Works

In 1758 the Antony Works in the suburb of Osterfeld was the first ironwork in the Ruhr area to go into production. As such it is widely regarded as the the cradle of the Ruhr industry. RIM has now taken over the original office and living-quarters of the works' director. Here visitors can view the valuable contents of the former archive of the Gutehoffnungshütte and a collection of glass-plate negatives of early industrial photographs.


Eisenheim (li. Iron-home), the oldest workers' settlement in the Ruhr area can also be found in Osterfeld. The old wash-house is no longer full of steaming washing and women have long ceased rubbing and scrubbing on the washboards. Instead the building houses an impressive exhibition on the history of the settlement and the lives and work of the local inhabitants.

-->INFORMATION ABOUT THE RHEINISCHE INDUSTRIEMUSEUM (The Museum for Industrial and Social History in the Rhineland):

Scarcely any other region has been more affected by industrialisation than North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW). There have been more changes here during the two industrial revolutions of the past 150 years than in the previous two thousand years of settlement. The present dramatic process of industrial transformation and technological restructuring is not only causing a substantial loss of jobs. Monuments to the world of industry and labour are being daily cast aside. For this reason the two regional authorities in North-Rhine Westphalia - the Landschaftsverband Rheinland and the Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe - have made it a priority to preserve and maintain former industrial architecture and important manufacturing sites in the area. Disused factories have been transformed into industrial museums. Since the 1980s the Rheinisches Industriemuseum (RIM) has taken charge of six sites and the Westphalian Industrial Museum (WIM) eight. These cover the region's most important industries as well as the different stages of industrial development. As far as possible the factories have been preserved in their authentic states and visitors can experience at close quarters demonstrations of metal-processing or textile manufacture, follow the stages of paper production or brush up their knowledge on electricity and its uses. Questions concerning the social and cultural historical aspects of industrialisation are always to the fore. Guided tours, special demonstrations and educational programmes are amongst the many extra attractions on offer in all the museums. The Rheinische Industriemuseum with its six different sites offers visitors a unique and fascinating chance to explore the industrial history of the Rhineland. The museums in Oberhausen, Ratingen, Solingen, Bergisch Gladbach, Engelskirchen and Euskirchen are the stopping-points along your voyage into industrial history. The following museums in Europe are partners of the Rhineland Industrial Museum: the Museu de la Ciència i de la Tècnica de Catalunya and the Écomusée de la Communauté Le Creusot/Montceau-Les-Mines. Alongside RIM the Landschaftsverband Rheinland also supports other institutions dealing with industrial history in the area, such as the Zinkhütter Hof in Stolberg near Aachen.

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