Ghent is proud of its industrial past, and that makes the Museum of Industry a hotspot for many Ghent locals: a sight in Ghent that needs to be on your to-do list for your city trip. In the Middle Ages, Ghent linen was an international household name.

Much of the industrial heritage that bore witness to the first and second industrial revolutions was scrapped and demolished from the 1970s onwards. Ghent City Council has made efforts to preserve machines and objects.

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 the Belgian entrepreneur 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.

The Museum of Industry: industrial heritage in Ghent

The Museum of Industry is housed in an old cotton mill. It provides a unique picture of the profound technological changes that our society has undergone in the last 250 years. Enjoy a magnificent view of the city from the highest floor of this transparent building.

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. Toddlers will enjoy the game ‘Out with Emma and Emiel’. Children learn through games how the workers and their families used to live. Many of them will be thrilled by the straw bed they found here, the lights, the fabrics, the photos, the soap... Kids aged 6 to 12 can explore the museum building and collection in a creative way with the games ‘Bag of Surprises’ and ‘KidSafeBreaker’. Fantastic fun!

Wash it all down at Bar Mitte!

All that fun with fabrics in the museum games is thirsty work. Never mind: you can quench your thirst at Bar Mitte, the museum café at the Museum of Industry. This creative space has great food and a lovely sun terrace with a view of the museum garden.