A good 25 years after it was first established, the LVR-Industriemuseum embarked on a modernisation programme in the year 2012. The benchmark decision "Vision 2020" formulates the guidelines for a comprehensive qualification review and modernisation of the seven locations in the Rhineland, in that locations are being rendered more flexible for larger temporary exhibitions, permanent exhibitions are being updated and new topics being developed. The future vision is based on synergies in the co-operation between the seven locations and a step for step procedure over almost a decade.
In the following you can learn more about “Vision 2020" and the measures taken to date.
The LVR-Industriemuseum, once the pioneer in the field of industrial heritage, is today only one amongst many who till the field of industrial heritage today. In 1984 having started as the Rheinisches Industriemuseum, it established a new type of museum, ground-breaking beyond the boundaries of the Rhineland. The museum was not just at the forefront of a continuing still ongoing process of democratisation and opening of museums dealing with work and everyday life but also of a movement for “Industrial Heritage” which in the meantime has become a formative unique feature.
Today the museum owns one of the leading collections in Germany relating to daily life and industrial history comprising more than 125,000 items. It has grown continually right up to the present with the further areas in the mansion in Ratingen and the industrial archaeological park in Oberhausen being added in 2010. In six towns in the Rhineland it operates seven sites with 50,000 sq. m. floor space and 80,000 sq. m. open space and it accommodates some 180,000 visitors annually. Although it is structured in small sections it still ranks amongst the large museums in Germany. Within its network above all the medium-sized sites in the smaller places have succeeded in achieving a good position as the “best local institution” - for example in Bergisch Gladbach as “the” family museum or in Ratingen with its popular exhibitions on the history of clothes. The high number of visitors who do not come from the town (or rural district) in which the site is located - that is more than two thirds – shows that the museums benefit from the regional network. Overall the concept of the “living museum” at de-centrally located original sites with production demonstrations and intensive personal communication has proved to be successful.
Nevertheless the LVR-Industriemuseum is facing significant challenges. The acceleration of social development has reached the industrial museums: original factory facilities are no longer enough: for the public this is a foreign world which needs explaining as it is not recognisable from personal observation. Many of the initial items of equipment are more than 15 years old and already appear to be outdated and this will be true even more so in 2020: starting with the service sectors which no longer correspond to current standards, to the exhibition technology and to the contents. Nowadays structural change has to be discussed differently to 20 years ago and young persons can no longer be attracted with screen media dating from the 1990s. At some sites larger scale investment in fire protection and safety are now due: therefore it makes sense to bring together the various restoration requirements and tackle them together.
In addition the museum is facing strong new competition. The Rhineland has developed a uniquely dense industrial heritage landscape with the IBA Emscher Park, the “Regionals” and the cultural capital. This competition not only has the attraction of being new, it is difficult for the industrial museum with its small divided structure to hold its ground, for example alongside the Ruhr Museum at the World Cultural Heritage site Zollverein. This applies in particular to the Ruhr area: Here the Oberhausen site Altenberg – once singular with a permanent exhibition on heavy industry, today one of many which are able to present this topic more effectively and in some cases more authentically – must reposition itself.
Having completed the projects for the Cultural Capital the new museum management has therefore initiated a task review and target discussion–in which all internal departments are involved. In July 2011 a conference on the future orientation took place attended by all specialised employees, in November a managerial staff conference. The first step was an analysis of the weaknesses, strengths and potential of all task fields and organisational units including detailed cost analyses of the sites. The current “Vision 2020” was then developed from this analysis. It formulates a new fundamental concept for the museum, development targets for each site up to the year 2020 and sets out the measures required for this.
Vision 2020 provides for investment in the substance of the museums over and above the required refurbishment and updating. The aim is to make the running of the museum more efficient and flexible, and also to provide the museum with perspectives for development and in doing so to ensure its competitiveness as flagship of LVR-Kultur (LVR Culture) in the long term. It does this in the conviction that the specific cultural mission of the museums is more topical than ever. Vision 2020 also takes the LVR network of industrial cultural heritage into account. It positions the museum so that it can become the nucleus of a more comprehensive consolidation of this industrial cultural heritage network. In doing so it ensures that the LVR - as the most important financier of industrial heritage in the Rhineland still – retains its leading and formative role in an important field of cultural policy in NRW.
May 2012: Fundamental resolution of the Culture Committee at Landschaftsverband Rheinland about the development programme for the LVR-Industriemuseum based on a site and task analysis.
April 2013:Following a four-month refurbishment break the LVR-Industriemuseum Engelskirchen opened again with the exhibition “Fashion-lights!” Parts of the previous permanent exhibition were dismantled in order to create more space for larger temporary exhibitions. The monument trail at the hydroelectric power plant of the cotton spinning mill Ermen& Engels will be made accessible to the public again as part of the re-organisation of the exhibition area. From April 2015 it will also be possible to experience virtually the monument trail around the Ermen & Engels power plant under the link ermenundengels.de. Treasure chests in the museum grounds lead to more in-depth information about the varied history of the factory, about Friedrich Engels or about life and work along the river Agger which anyone can access per smartphone on the spot or by computer at home.
November 2013: The first exhibition to be presented in the extended area for temporary exhibitions at the LVR-Industriemuseum Tuchfabrik Müller area is “Glanz und Grauen - Mode im 'Dritten Reich'” (Glamour and Horror – Fashion in the Third Reich). Parts of the previous permanent exhibition were dismantled in order to create more space for larger temporary exhibitions.
June 2014: The Topic Playground "Kleine Dombach" at the LVR-Industriemuseum Papiermühle Alte Dombach (Paper Mill) is open. The playground and the equipment reflect the typical features of the paper mills in the area. In September 2015 the second construction phase will be completed with further innovative playground equipment being added. The "Verein der Freunde und Förderer des LVR- Industriemuseums der Schauplatz Bergisch Gladbach – Papiermühle Alte Dombach e.V. (Association of Friends) – and the Landschaftsverband Rheinland will jointly cover the costs for the playground.
January 2015: The permanent exhibition in the Hendrichs’ drop forge has been provided with new media stations. These stations replace not only some exhibition information boards but permit the presentation of animated graphics, short films and audio documents.
April 2015: Updating of the fundamental resolution and approval of the refurbishment planning at the LVR-Industriemuseum Zinkfabrik Altenberg by the Cultural Committee at Landschaftsverband Rheinland.
October 2015: Within the scope of an open workshop, some 50 experts from business, politics, culture and scientific sectors as well as interested members of the public exchanged views about a possible re-orientation of the LVR-Industriemuseum Zinkfabrik Altenberg (Zinc Factory). Driving force were Dr. Christine Vogt, Director of the Ludwig Galerie Schloss Oberhausen, Prof. Dr. Manfred Rasch, Head of the ThyssenKrupp Archive, Jutta Kruft-Lohrengel, President of the IHK in Essen (Chamber of Commerce and Industry), Apostolos Tsalastras, Town Councillor and Head of Culture for the town of Oberhausen and Anja Hoffmann, Chairperson of the Bundesverband Museumspädagogik e.V.
October 2015: In spring 2015 parts of the permanent exhibition in the “High Factory” were dismantled, partitioned areas were removed and the 2nd floor was renovated, significantly enlarging the area available for temporary exhibitions at LVR-Industriemuseum Textilfabrik Cromford (Textile Mill). The first temporary exhibition to benefit from this was “Die Macht der Mode” (The Power of Fashion) which can now be presented on three floors. In future it is planned to use the 2nd floor as a multi-function room.
November / December 2016: One after the other the Culture Committee, the Construction and Sourcing Board, the Economic and Finance Committee and the Committee for Rural Affairs at Landschaftsverband Rheinland approved the planned refurbishment measures at the LVR-Industriemuseum Zinkfabrik Altenberg (Zinc Factory). A pre-condition is that funding procurement from subvention funds is successful in the subsequent period. With this it is possible to embark upon the further measures to re-orientate the museum such as the refurbishment of the plate roller shop, the re-organisation of the open areas or the construction of a museum forge and demonstration foundry.
January 2017: The permanent exhibition at Tuchfabrik Müller (Cloth Factory) was made more lively using modern media. These include acoustic surprises such as the background noise of steam engine and looms as well as historical film excerpts, extracts from interviews with former employees and background information about everyday life in the former cloth factory.
April 2018: Following the ‘Finissage’ for the permanent exhibition “Heavy Industry” at the Zinkfabrik Altenberg (Zinc Factory) well over 1,000 exhibits were put into the storage facility or returned to the lenders and many tons moved in the process.
December 2018: Following the end of the large temporary exhibition “Energiewenden – Wendezeiten” (Energy Revolution – Times of Change) the roller hall was completely closed at the end of the year.
January 2019: The heart of the previous permanent exhibition "Heavy Industry" – the 77 year-old freight train steam tender locomotive no. 2429 from the series 50 built by Krupp AG – was spectacularly transported to an engine shed to be stored. But don’t worry: It will come back and become part of the new permanent exhibition!
February 2020: The majority of the preparatory work and the preliminary inspections having been completed, the building work started at the beginning of February 2020. The building authorities in Oberhausen were informed about the commencement of the building work and a hoarding was erected. The building site was rendered accessible with a construction road. A small part of the historic factory wall had to be removed for this. The first task was to demolish the installations in the plate roller shop which were not part of the historic inventory to make way for the new equipment.
February 2020: More than 90 persons came to learn more about the re-orientation of the museum and to contribute their own ideas. The event included short lectures, a podium discussion and three parallel workshops. The invitations had been sent by the LVR-Industriemuseum and the town of Oberhausen.