Merinos Textile Industry Museum

Bursa had been a convenient city for establishment of a textile factory with its geographical situation, climate conditions, qualified labour potential and weaving tradition which remained since the Ottoman period. One of the first industrialization samples established by the state; Merinos Wool Weaving Factory was designed by German architects on 262.000 m2 land and opened on 2nd February 1938; 15 years after the foundation of Turkish Republic. This factory had the most advanced system of the Balkans and the Middle East and employed 17.500 workers during the time it was active. When Turkey’s financial and social conditions after its Independence War between the two world wars are considered, Merinos Wool Weaving Factory, which also employed wide number of women, developed a contemporary labour understanding for the country in terms of social and cultural level. European engineers provided every support in order to develop the factory and beyond being a factory, it served as a “yarn and wool weaving faculty” for the workers and trainees.

Merinos Wool Weaving Factory, which provided the major contribution to Turkish economy especially in 1960s, could not catch the fast developing technology. It was closed in 2004 and passed to Bursa Metropolitan Municipality. After that, in order to preserve this industrial heritage, the factory building as well as its field was transformed to a culture complex by focusing on museology understanding after detailed restoration and reconstruction works which made the complex an important cultural value for Turkey.

Merinos Textile Industry Museum, being the first and the unique textile industry museum of Turkey, was opened on 14th of October, 2011. The museum was established at the washing department which was considered as the heart of the factory and located on 7000 m2 area spread over two floors. The museum is divided into four main sections as work stream was taken into consideration: Preliminary (tops); yarn; weaving and laboratories; clothing, dye and finish. In these sections, the processes of growing up the Merinos sheep, obtaining the wool and the whole story until the wool becomes a fabric are told; the working system of the factory with various brand 80 machines produced in 1930s, 1950s and 1970s in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and England are explained. Sometimes factory’s retired workers become volunteers as guides, so that the memories stay alive.

A large exhibition hall in the museum was created for cocoon production with the aim of reawaken the silkworm breeding which had been a major trading in Bursa at the period of Ottomans and identified with Bursa city. At this section, history of silk in the world and in Bursa as well as the story of silk from silkworm breeding to woven silk fabric are told.

Turkish textile culture has got a rich collection in terms of archaeology and ethnography and Bursa’s traditional textile handicrafts have important role on this. However, the textile handicrafts used as clothing and decoration like hand woven  fabrics, hand printing fabrics, carpets and kilims, embroideries, laceworks, knitting, fibre arts like silk, wool, angora and felt have been displaced with their degenerated samples. Existing original traditional works are being sold -and disappeared- as touristic souvenirs and new generation is unaware of this cultural richness. Therefore “Tangible and Intangible Textile Culture Heritage” project is carried out with Bursa Metropolitan Municipality Bursa Research Centre. Within this scope, interviews are made with the villagers who continue producing traditional handicrafts. Their works and production techniques are being archived with photos and video records in the museum. In addition to this, with this project, the collection of the museum is being enriched by the donations of the villagers.

Besides traditional textile activities and production, the museum, which is established in historical textile city of Bursa, also manages the projects that support modern textile, fibre art and artists. Since the beginning of 2013, museum is managing a project that consists of exhibitions and workshops with the participations of national and international artists and worldwide known Turkish artist Prof. Dr. Ayten Sürür is the curator and consultant of this project. The scope of the project is to introduce this modern art to the visitors and to identify Bursa as textile art and design city.

Bursa Merinos Textile Industry Museum which is established and financed by Bursa Metropolitan Municipality carries on mutual projects with other museums in the city, Bursa Research centre, City Council, Industry Chambers, Turkish Union of Historical Towns and ÇEKÜL (The Foundation for the Protection and Promotion of the Environment and Cultural Heritage) and some other NGOs.

The Museum was awarded with Sivilay Great Prize in 2011 and Turkish Union of Historical Towns Great Prize in 2012 due to its effort for preservation of industrial heritage.