The idea of organizing the museum of textiles in Łódź was born already in 1946. In the city with rich textile tradition, the biggest Polish centre of textile industry, this idea seemed unquestioned. The conception was reminded to the authorities of the City, Ministry of Art and Culture in 1949, 1950, 1951, but it was only in 1952 when the department of textiles (not the museum!) was established in the Muzeum Sztuki (Museum of Art) in Łódź. After 1955 it had its seat, although it was connected with evicting of the former users, major repair and adaptation (the main user was the Cotton Mill ESKIMO). The seat was the White Factory, a magnificent complex of classicist buildings, one of the most beautiful monuments of industrial architecture in Poland. Erected by Ludwig Geyer in 1835-1839, the White Factory (many times expanded and re-built) was the first in Poland multi-department factory. It housed the first in Poland mechanical spinning, weaving and printing rooms for cotton, driven by steam machine (as a consequence of steam machine work, the first chimney was erected nearby the factory premises, the first one in Łódź; later, Łódź was often referred to as “the city of chimneys”).
The collection of the department was growing quickly. Exhibitions displayed in specially selected space of the Muzeum Sztuki (Museum of Art) in Łódź, in textile factories in Łódź and in numerous cultural institutions in Poland, aroused much interest and were very popular. Therefore, decision was taken to make the department “independent” as Branch of the Museum of Art. This situation lasted only for several months in 1959. In 1960 Museum of the History of Textiles was established, a separate independent institution. In 1975 the new name was given – the Central Museum of Textiles. Its first and long-time director was Krystyna Kondratiukowa (earlier, she was head of department). Slowly, with many problems, various parts of the four-wing complex were given to the museum, after necessary overhaul and adaptations. After 50 years from the moment when the Minister of Light Industry decided to concede the White Factory as the seat of the museum, this decision has finally been carried in effect.
The scientific, collector and promotion interests of the museum concentrate around everything related to textile manufacturing process – from materials, through textile techniques and technologies to textiles products representing various processing degree. This assumption results in the fact that apart from textiles we also collect other non-textiles fibres, felts, knitting as well as garments made of them and contemporary artworks created from paper (because linen and cotton “end” their lives in paper mills). Collections are gathered, scientifically elaborated, conserved and, in various forms, displayed by the specialized thematic departments of the museum.
The Museum’s surface (apart from the objects in the open-air museum) equals 16 000 square meters, including 7 000 square meters of exhibition space. In our history we organized over 1 000 exhibitions (with documented 900, as the archival materials from the first two decades of museum’s history are incomplete). Since 1972 the museum worked in co-operation and since 1982 is the sole organizer of the International Triennial of Tapestry. Presently, it is the oldest and biggest world international exhibition-competition promoting the contemporary “fibre art”. Usually, 120-140 artists representing 50-55 countries take part in the exhibitions. Apart from the triennial, our museum is the sole organizer and exhibitor of big national Polish events – National Exhibition of the Polish Tapestry (since 2004), National Exhibition of the Polish Miniature Textiles (since 1998), national Exhibition of the Polish Cross-Stitch Embroidery of Amateur Artists (since 2000); each of them is visited by several dozen thousand people.
Central Museum of Textiles