Permanent exhibition

From the yarn to the shirt: Textile history live

The diverse, changing craft methods, semi-mechanical and automatic processes for the production  of a textile fabric from the natural fiber up to the finished product are presented. Especially the textile techniques, which are typical for the Wupper Valley: Bleaching, spinning, weaving and braiding.

Since the middle of the 18th century, the period of the increasing „yarn hunger“, the production methods and –processes have changed by accelerated innovations particularly in the technical area. In some sectors the productivity could be increased by more than 200 times. New products could be launched on the market, too, significantly combined with the conversion of linen products to cotton products and also silk: From the simple, colorless or white linen band to colorful patterned ribbons; from shoelaces and braids to the lace production, from the linen sheet to patterned or printed cotton fabrics and silk scarfs.

Textilgeschichte 


Textilgeschichte


Textilgeschichte

From the needlework to the machine: How textile engineering has changed

The decisive upheaval in the textile technology followed in the 18th century with the industrial revolution in England. At a pace as never seen before within 60 years, a centuries-old, partially even millennia old technique, was mechanized and automated. In the textile industry machines for spinning have been developed, which exceeded by far the performance of the old spinning wheels. In connection with water- or steam power the yarn production could be increased almost unlimited.

Somewhat later also handlooms have been replaced by mechanical weaving looms. Spinning and weaving factories were created, with whose mass production the textile craftsmen could not compete any longer. On the continent the industrialization took place a little later than in England; the Wupper Valley was among the pioneer regions. The region furthermore became a location of an early technology transfer, especially from England, France and Belgium. The technical innovations in the production process in turn led to changes in the work flow and in the work organization, which as a result of mechanization was continuously based on the division of labor. During this period the cities of Barmen and Elberfeld developed themselves on the one hand into industrial and commercial centers, but at the same time into social hotspots as well.

Technikgeschichte


Technikgeschichte


Technikgeschichte

Mass misery, housing shortage and child labor: Social consequences of the industrialization process.

The advancing industrialization in the 1830s and 1840s in the Wupper Valley already led to the mass immiseration of the “working class”.

According to the model of the Elberfeld system around 1850 nearly one in five inhabitants were supported. About 18 % of the population lived below the subsistence level. Hunger was part of everyday life, the hygienic conditions in the slums were disastrous. The rich citizens felt themselves responsible, but were powerless in the face of the profound social consequences of the upheaval from handicraft to industrial methods of production.

Numerous immigrants from eastern regions aggravated the housing shortage. Only the construction of rental housing by private investors and the establishment of non-profit construction companies in the 1870s eased the tension on the housing market.
The child labor increased strongly in the early industrial phase and rose to around 1890 to its highest level. The reasons for child labor were and still are: Poverty, lack of education, greed for profit.

The Church, too, did not find an effective solution of the social question. Solely by religious life-style the material problems of the workers and craftsmen could not be improved. Only in Bismarck´s social legislation and in the Weimar years of reform their emergency could be reduced.

Sozialgeschichte


Sozialgeschichte


Sozialgeschichte

Religious history of Wuppertal

Since the Reformation the Wupper Valley is a stronghold for different religions and religious groups. In the 16th century the community of Elberfeld converted almost unanimously to Protestantism, whereas other parts of the Wupper Valley remained catholic. This was unique at that time in Germany and only possible, because  the Bergisch Dukes intervened scarcely in the religion of their subjects. The Wupper Valley became a place, where several denominations coexisted and where they were conscious themselves of their common grounds, but above all, too, their disagreements.

After the efforts of the Reformation the lived faith withered away to a pure doctrinal edifice. The emergence of Pietism is to be interpreted as a countermovement against such a rigid understanding of faith. In the 18th century citizens of Elberfeld and Barmen took the religion in their own hands. They founded religious domestic communities and joined themselves together to spiritual circles. Even though these groups had varying levels of strictness, they were still unified by a lived piety and their belief in the infallibility of the Bible. Missionary and Bible societies were founded. The aim was, that man, more than before, should cooperate in building the kingdom of God.

Out of this movement, mixed with the new ideas of enlightenment, in the 19th century developed a Protestant ethic out of the Calvinistic predestination, in which work is elevated to a main purpose in life and to a church service. The philosopher and sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) considered this to be a religious view between “soul´s salvation and balance sheet”. Finally the divine revelation stepped back in favor of a secular morality. A religious persuasion developed, in which God took an increasingly distance to the people and in which the believer was purely subject to God´s grace and his all-outstanding will. Due to the distance of God a divine intervention into the everyday life became less and less communicable. Thereby the influence of the church on human behavior became increasingly lost in the Wupper Valley, too.