The silk weaving museum at Repslagargatan in Stockholm’s old working class heart dates back to 1833 but weaving in Sweden dates back much further than that, both with domestic looms and commercial weaving. According to my guide book there were 30 weaving mills in Stockholm in the 1700s. In fact, our hotel once operated as a silk weaving mill.
Almgren pioneered the use of punch-cards for pattern weaving, an idea he picked up from the French. The mill that is now the museum continued as a business until 1974, which is how it survived to become a museum today.
We have observed that there are a large number of small, specialised museums dotted around this country, showcasing everything from grinding stones to ABBA to psychiatric care. We suspect that maybe there may be some tax breaks involved but whatever the reason, its good to see both cultural traditions and workplaces being preserved. Having said that, some of the museums barely justify the entrance fee. The boat and toy museum near Motala was a particular disappointment in that regard. It felt really bad to give out our hard-earned cash to see a collection of Kinder Surprise toys and a model railway that wasn’t operating due to ‘staff shortages.’
Almgrens, on the other hand, was worth every krona. There was a weaver working one of the looms and we were able to chat to her in English about the warping process and about working conditions when the mill was operating commercially.
I would recommend Almgrens to anyone interested in weaving, industrialisation or technology.