Admission with guided tour
Admission with guided tour
1 May to 31 October
Wednesdays, 10:00 and 11:00 am
Fridays, 3:00 and 4:00 pm
The textile industry was once a mainstay of the Mühlviertel region. What is today known as the Mühlviertel ‘Weaving Route’ is a testament to that fact. The cultivation of flax and the countless domestic weaving mills in the area saw the textile dyeing trade, centred around the Mühlviertel region from the 17th century on, flourish. One of the most remarkable monuments to this golden age of the dyeing industry is the dye works in Gutau, where dyeing continued until 1968. Today the building serves as a museum. This rural baroque building, which was constructed in the 17th century with foundations that date back to the 14th century, features a large and striking tufted hip roof over the drying loft and the wooden vestibule that helped ventilate it.
Visitors to the Gutau Dyeing Museum’s seven exhibition rooms will come face to face with the lives of erstwhile dyers as they toiled at their craft. Spun wool and textiles of all kinds were hot dyed in the copper kettles found in the boiler room, which is also equipped with a draw well. The process itself is based on cold dyeing using indigo, a precious dye that was originally imported from tropical countries. Linen was hung untreated from a star-framed hoop and dipped into the cold indigo in a huge, recessed oak tub known as the ‘Küpe’. When the linen is first removed from the Küpe, it does not emerge with that classic blue colouring, but is instead yellow. Only when it comes into contact with the oxygen in the air does the dye turn the linen green and finally blue – starting the ‘Blue Wonder’ on its course. The enormous containers that once stored the different acids used for dyeing are on display in the dyeing chamber. Many valuable blue-printing models, usually carved from pear wood and ornamented with countless brass pins and bars, testify to the elaborate process involved in making these textiles. Fabric samples, Josef Zötl’s hiking book and all sorts of other artefacts complete the exhibit.
But the museum’s most spectacular piece is a 12-tonne, six-metre-long (6.40 m) working mangle that dates back over 300 years. This mangle would ultimately give the dyed and even untreated linen its coveted brilliance by continuously rolling it over wooden rollers. In the mangle room, visitors will also learn how linen was once printed using a special paste called ‘Papp’.
Blue-printing played an important role in rural households when it came to clothing and laundry. Today blue-printing is undergoing a renaissance, though only two blue-printing dye works have survived in Austria.