One hundred years ago Ghent was still a lively industrial city, with smoking chimney stacks and densely populated working-class districts. The Museum of Industry near Vrijdagmarkt transports you to that industrial past and needs to be on your to-do list for your city trip.

About people and machinery

With the main exhibition “About people and machines” the Museum of Industry tells the story of the industrial revolutions. You will discover how steam and electricity revolutionised industrial life. How women and children worked barefooted in the factories and how the first migrant workers came to join the local factory workers in the 1950s. Ghent's glorious textile past is the central theme of the exhibition.

Jenny spins a tale of industrial espionage

Did you know? Ghent was the first city where the industrial revolution took hold on the continent, after the United Kingdom, at the end of the 18th century. The British government was terrified of espionage and guarded its technological progress by banning the export of machines. But it hadn’t reckoned with Lieven Bauwens, who smuggled the components of a ‘Spinning Mule’ out of the country in 1798 in sacks of coffee and flour. The ‘Spinning Mule’ or ‘Spinning Jenny’ is a spinning machine that can still be admired at the Museum of Industry in Ghent.

In addition to the “Mule Jenny" or spinning mule, you can also admire Europe’s oldest conserved twine mill, dating from 1789, as well as the “self-actor”, a gigantic spinning machine.

A living museum

In addition to the main exhibition, the museum features two other exhibitions with working machines. In “Three centuries of graphic industry”, you will discover the drastic changes the printing industry has experienced over the past 300 years. In the pressroom – where the presses are still working – you will be able to watch passionate printers and graphic designers at work at regular intervals.

“100% Textile” shows you how textile used to be produced.  You can follow the entire process, from cotton fluff to towel. With humming spinning machines and rattling looms. The exhibition also introduces you to modern textile production and techniques. For textile is omnipresent. And for centuries, people of all cultures have spun, woven, tufted, embroidered, made bobbin lace, sewn and knitted. Watch the artisans at work!

The Museum of Industry: industrial heritage in Ghent

The Museum of Industry is housed in an old cotton mill. Enjoy a magnificent view of the city from the highest floor of this transparent building. The museum also features a device you can use to scan the skyline and discover the industrial past of the buildings you see.

Museum of Industry in Ghent: mega kid-friendly!

If you’re out in Ghent on a weekend break with your children, this is the ideal museum to visit with your curious kids. Explore everything together. Children aged between 1.5 and 12 years can enjoy themselves with the museum game ‘About people and machines’. Discover the exhibition together with your family by means of a booklet and a lunch box full of assignments. Every child is given specific assignments depending on their age category. The exhibition “Three centuries of graphic industry” offers both children and adults the opportunity to make their very own mini zine. A nice memento of your visit.  Do you fancy imitating the sounds of machines together with your family? Then be sure to visit the Museum of Industry and experience an hour of family fun! Fantastic fun!

Bar Baudelo

The museum café, Bar Baudelo, is a cozy place. Inside and on the beautiful sun terrace in the museum garden you can enjoy a snack, drink or delicious dessert. You will be served by people with disabilities, thanks to a project by non-profit organisation Kompas. On the menu you will find Ghent specialties and local products. An ideal end to your museum visit.

Traces of Industrial Ghent

A walk throug the industrial heritage in the centre of Ghent.