Bulgaria's Manchester

The Interactive Museum of Industry in Gabrovo is unique for the Balkans

The development of Gabrovo's industry is a major theme in the museum's exhibition, which includes more than 20 video installations, virtual images, and decors.

The town of Gabrovo is situated at the northern foothills of central Stara Planina Mountain, in the valley of the Yantra River. The city is notable for its beautiful nature, National Revival spirit and unique architecture as well as modern museums and galleries. But one of the biggest attractions the town prides itself for is the Balkan region's one-of-a-kind Interactive Museum of Industry, which was opened in 2014.

Major theme in the museum's exposition is the development of Gabrovo's local industry in the 19th and 20th centuries. It includes more than 20 video installations, software, virtual images, and decors. The four-storey building of the museum has an elegant architectural style and modern design.

The rich thematic content of the museum is attractively arranged in three different halls. It presents the industrial development of Gabrovo from the middle of the 19th century to the present day - covering the industrialisation (from the end of the 19th century to 1944), the socialist period (from 1944 to 1989) and the modern times (from 1989 to the present day), creating an authentic and unforgettable atmosphere.

The era of industrialisation is shown on the first floor and presents the beginning of Gabrovo's industry, the development of Gabrovo as an important trade and artisan centre as well as the establishment of the town as an educational centre, with the opening of the first Bulgarian secular modern school. This period of the history of Gabrovo established it as a leading industrial centre. Visitors can learn what types of industry and crafts were developed then, which led to Gabrovo being called Bulgaria's Manchester at that time. Later on, due to these developments, the town became the strongest industrial centre in the 20th century.

On the second floor, the socialist era covers the period of nationalisation of private property, the consolidation of private factories in state-owned enterprises, the establishment of specialised schools for training of qualified personnel. Exhibits of the then prosperous wool and cotton textile industry, metalworking, machine building and chemical industry are presented here. Archives of the local and national periodicals have been preserved, praising the quality of the domestic production in the heyday of the planned economy. Household items which were present in every home during this era are exhibited as well.

On the third and last floor, the exhibition interactively presents the period from 1989 to the present day - the collapse of the socialist bloc and the beginning of the transition to democracy period, the privatisation of enterprises and the decrease in the volume of production, the increase of the share of the private sector over the state-owned one. The exposition demonstrates that nowadays the manufacturing industry continues to be a leading sector in this region due to the developed infrastructure, the technical university in the town and the qualified workforce.

The interactive installations offer visitors to switch on one of the first light bulbs in Bulgaria, to cause an explosion with the raw materials of the first firearm cartridges producer in Bulgaria - Gabrovo's factory Elovitsa, to get acquainted with prominent Gabrovo industrialists, etc. The last attraction offered in the museum is a visit to the basement, where a modern hall for 3D projections is located. There, sitting in modern armchairs, visitors can see the most beautiful sights in the area, presented through a bird's-eye view in a ten-minute three-dimensional film.

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