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The Warsaw Voice » Other » October 8, 2008
The £ód¼ Voice
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Revitalisation of The Textile Museum in £ód¼
October 8, 2008   
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The so-called White Factory (Bia³a Fabryka) is the oldest part of a 19th-century cotton mill once owned by £ód¼ industrialist Ludwik Geyer. It is one of the most beautiful examples of industrial architecture in £ód¼. The White Factory, whose buildings enclose a quadrangle, makes for a stunning sight from both a landscaping and architectural point of view since it is sited by a lake on the edge of the W³adys³aw Reymont Park.

The post-World War II history of the White Factory is linked to the establishment of the Textile Museum in £ód¼. In October 1954, £ód¼ city authorities decided that there was a need for a textile museum and chose the site of Ludwik Geyer's White Factory, a former cotton factory. At the same time, the city applied to include the facility on the region's heritage list. The White Factory was placed at the top of that list Nov. 6, 1954.

The Museum of the History of the Textile Industry opened its doors on the 1st of January, 1960. Restoration work on the White Factory buildings was started in 1955 and marked the first adaptation of industrial premises for cultural purposes in Europe. The east wing of the White Factory was not added to the museum until 2002. Then the complete restoration of the premises to link all the factory buildings to create an integral, functioning whole became a realistic proposition.

Architects Anita Luniak and Teresa Mromliñska from the OMT Foundation in Wroc³aw won a tender, organized by the Central Textile Museum, for the restoration works. Their design provides for the use of the east wing for exhibitions, the restoration of the factory baths, and the creation of an open-air museum of municipal timber architecture in the neighboring parkland.

Krystyna Kondratiuk, the founder and first director of the museum, had thought up the open-air museum idea in the 1950s. All of the museum's directors since then had unsuccessfully attempted to carry out such a project.

The open-air museum is designed to replicate a typical £ód¼ street in the 1820s. It was oficially opened on the 29th of September 2008. On both sides of the street there are three authentic workman's homes and workshops, a historical church dating from 1848 from Nowosolna, and an Art Nouveau summer house from Ruda Pabianicka. Here you can see examples of most of the types of municipal timber architecture that are typical for £ód¼ but which represent a dying craft today. Moreover, the museum will preserve the characteristic street layout of a 19th century town. The interiors of the houses will be restored and will contain authentic equipment previously used by £ód¼'s workers and craftsmen. Besides the historic houses, visitors to the museum will be able to participate in demonstrations of textile weaving in the old workshops and on historic looms. People skilled in these crafts, which are today dying away, will find a haven in the museum. Since the site of the open-air museum is to the east of the White Factory, the architects decided to relocate the museum entrance.

The European Fund for Regional Development, the European Social Fund and £ód¼ City Hall are together funding the project.

The historical redevelopment of the White Factory will give the museum additional exhibition space ideally suited for the display of enormous wall hangings and textile machinery. The open-air museum, which is both interdisciplinary and interactive, will be a unique tourist attraction. The museum will benefit from the addition of attractions such as open workshops, art shops and a summer cinema by becoming part of a lively and modern city and better able to meet people's expectations.

Monika Ptasiñska

Central Museum of Textiles, "The White Factory" of Ludwig Geyer, 282 Piotrkowska St., £ód¼ www.muzeumwlokiennictwa.pl
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