A couple of weeks ago my husband and I treated ourselves to an afternoon off and we spent it at MIAT, The Museum voor Industriële Archeologie en Textiel in Gent. I was busting my side in anticipation. For years I learnt to weave, have my own looms and spent many hours weaving but I had never seen a jacquard loom in real life. I didn’t know for sure that the museum would have one on display but I thought surely they must. I was thrilled to find not one but three jacquard looms and literally floors of exciting weaving machinery and equipment.
The museum is housed in a huge brick building which, from the early 1800′s, housed the former Desmet-Guequier cotton mill. Some of the equipment in the museum belonged to the mill allowing visitors to see some unique equipment that they wouldn’t normally see, unless visiting a working mill of course. The building has huge floor to ceiling windows that let in an extraordinary amount of light and has high ceilings resulting in a beautiful, dynamic space. As visitors move through the building from the top floor to the bottom, the curators want them to feel as though they journey through time. This is done by successfully using huge life-size images to set the scene, time and place. The exhibit begins with early hand operated looms and moves through to steam operated machines and then on to high powered, electricity run mass production machines, some that are meters and meters wide. Not all looms, there are warpers, carders, combers and winders, a brilliant array of equipment to help visitors understand the evolution of woven cloth production.
Above, a tapestry loom.
Above, a very old, small jaquard loom. Magnificent!
Above, a piston from a steam engine which operates a drive shaft which in turn operates all of the weaving machinery.
Above, the drive shaft runs above all of the machinery and each machine is connected to it by way of a wheel and belt.
Above, along with giant over-sized prints on the walls, the museum uses dummies which give a brilliant sense of time and place. Some of the dummies are quite realistic!
Above and below, a braid loom that can weave multiple braids at once. All with the same pattern but using different coloured warp and weft.
Above, they also run classes and various educational programs alongside the exhibition including a functioning paper printing press workshop that has a vast array of presses in normal working order.
And I leave you with this final message …. be extra careful around industrial equipment! Oh dear …..