Bergisch Gladbach, a 110,000 inhabitant city East of Cologne, is a traditional location for the production of paper. While nowadays, the paper machines can produce about 1,000 (metric) tons per day, the Alte Dombach Paper Mill is showing the importance and historic process to create this product. It is owned by the Rhineland regional authority LVR and part of their Industry Museums.
Alte Dombach Paper Mill – Location & Admission
The museum is located at the East edge of Bergisch Gladbach city centre. The museum consists of seven buildings. However, the houses 1 to 3 have been merged to one over time and is now also home of the main exhibition. You likely see house 7 first, as it is closest to the parking lot. It houses the large historic paper machine PM4. Another building is hosting the shop and ticket office, one a cafe and one sanitary facilities. The area around is also very popular for walking and relaxation. The museum grounds also include a popular playground.
The museum is opening Tuesday to Friday, 10am to 5pm and 11am to 6pm weekends. The adult admission is 4.50 EUR. For 25 Euro, one person may however visit all museums of the two Northrhine-Westfalia regional authorities for one year. Being allowed to bring your partner with you adds up to 35 Euro. The exhibition is in German, but there are audio guides available for the main exhibition, which also include English and other languages. The museum accepts the RUHR.TOPCARD.
Alte Dombach Paper Mill – Exhibition
The first part of the exhibition deals with the past and present use and consumption of paper. In the very first room, you see how much the usage has exploded on the recent years. From books to toilet paper, there are a lot of different paper products which are featured by this part of the museum. The focus is on German products, but there are some international ones as well.
Paper Manifacturing Demonstration
The second part of the museum is maybe the most impressive and memorable one. It shows how paper has been made in the past and is made nowadays. Kids can even draw paper on their own (and take one sheet with them which has been made the day before – their paper is too wet). In order to show more modern method, a paper-making machine is installed and runs regularly with guided commentary. The machine is pretty small, as it has never been focused to produce paper, but to test different kind of dyes for paper making. The consumption of water at paper making is that high that you need to re-use a very high percentage of the liquid again. If the color stays in the water instead of on the paper, recycling the water is not possible.
The final part of this exihibition are the historic drying rooms, where paper was stored to become completely dry.
Historic Role of Paper Exhibits
After this part, which is surely the highlight of the visit, you can see a lot of paper artifacts. The key aim is to illustrate how paper influenced the life in the past, including the life and history of the Bergisch Land paper makers. This part of the exhibit also show two models (at different point in time) of the Dombach Paper Mill.
Parts of the exhibits are outdoors, located in the beautiful park around the papermill. The first part shows a couple of plants which can be used to produce paper (these parts are documented in Germany only).
You proceed to an area where a couple of old machines are located. For example, one machine has been used to shred wood, and another one to prepare old clothes for the paper-making.
PM 4 Paper Machine
In a separate exhibition hall, you find the paper machine PM4, which has been built in 1889 and used until 1991. However, its original location is at another place in Bergisch Gladbach, the Gohrsmühle. Due to the transport and reconstruction at this new location, the machine lost its static stability. It does not run any more. Some other minor machines and exhibits complete this part of the Alte Dombach exhibition.
Alte Dombach Paper Mill – My View
The Alte Dombach paper mill / paper museum is just a place how I love a museum to be. It opened my mind to new topic, is educative, but also entertaining. There is a lot to explore – and finally, the area around the museum is beautiful. Yes, I do like technical museums in general. And I enjoyed other LVR places like the Ratingen-Cromford textile factory or the Lindlar Open Air Museum. But Dombach is just incredibly good and an absolutely amazing value for money.
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