Explore more...


Visitor information: Saturday 15th October
We’re are very sorry that the Silk Mill is closed Saturday 15th October for our Fundraising Ball, but we hope to see you next week for Derby Mini Maker Faire

Thursday: 3-9pm – Open Make (open to general public)
Saturday: 1-5pm – Open Make (open to general public)

Friday: Development Day
(Closed to general visitors) – a dedicated day used for workshops, development sessions and learning programmes for target audiences e.g. schools, community groups etc.

Building opens for specific programmed events and activities throughout the year but is closed at other times.

Bank Holidays: CLOSED

Derby’s stunning Silk Mill building stands on the site of the world’s first factory and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building is currently undergoing a process of significant development to reinvent the Silk Mill for the 21st century through the creation of Derby Silk Mill – Museum of Making. The new museum will display fascinating items from Derby’s rich industrial history, celebrating the makers of the past; and will be designed to empower makers of the future through inspirational environments for learning programmes and activities. The project is timed to be completed in 2019/20 and is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Derby City Council and Arts Council England.

The 2016 ‘Project Lab’ phase builds on the most recent stage, which saw a community rebuilding programme ‘Re:Make the Museum’ engage local people in helping develop, design and build new displays, furniture and fittings for the ground floor ‘prototype’ Museum of Making between 2013-14. This collaborative project served to create an playful space for pilot programmes and workshops and display just some of the items from the museum’s vast collection. This space has been well used by local communities and businesses throughout 2015. During 2016 new ideas will be tried and tested to create the types of experiences visitors can expect in the completed Derby Silk Mill – Museum of Making in 2020 and will engage local communities in helping pilot those ideas –ensuring the museum is ‘made with the makers of today’. These include developing new education programmes for schools and colleges as well as revealing new stories linked to the collections that will be displayed.


In the meantime, please take advantage of the opportunities to get involved in activities at our other two museum sites, the Museum & Art Gallery and Pickford’s House by checking out our ‘What’s On’ programme or by following us on Twitter and Facebook.

We have £2.5m match funding to secure to enable us to deliver the new Museum of Making. If you would like to support us by becoming a Founding Donor or Corporate Sponsor then please contact us at info@derbymuseums.org to find out more.

You are welcome to download the executive summary document here (please be aware that this is a 6mb pdf document).

For more on the action research consultation for The Silk Mill project see the project Tumblr. You can also click on the Re:Make menu item to find out more about our co-production approach through 2013-15.

Download Derby Museums Human Centred Design Toolkit here (latest version – June 2016)

Early history of the Silk Mill
Originally built to house machines for twisting silk together to make threads, the Silk Mill has an exciting early history. The design of the machines was copied by John Lombe, during a period he spent in Italy, working within the Italian Silk Industry. This is possibly the first-ever example of industrial espionage!
These new huge, machines were capable of producing far greater quantities of silk than traditional spinsters who worked in their homes on spinning wheels. The new machines required large buildings and a considerable power source, and an undershot water wheel turned by a millstream on the west side of the new Silk Mill drove the massive spinning machines. Factory-scale silk spinning like this would become serious competition for the Italians.

This engine contains 26,586 Wheels, and 96,746 Movements, which work 73,726 yards of Silk – thread, every time the Waterwheel goes round, which is does three times in one minute 

Daniel Defoe ‘ A Tour thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain ‘ 1742



Transitional Spaces are the places that we are beginning to use to show our previously stored collections.


Derby Museums have a collection that is wide ranging and varied. We hope that you find something to interest you.


The Mildand Railway Study Centre at the Silk Mill is the UK's largest pre-nationalisation railway archive.

About Us

Derby Museums is a charitable trust responsible for the rich cultural and creative history of Derby. The Trust manages three sites: the City Museum and Art Gallery, Pickford’s House and The Silk Mill, and all art and collections are held and curated by the Trust.

Derby Museums,
Museum and Art Gallery,
The Strand,
Derby, DE1 1BS

01332 641901

Support Us

As a charitable trust, Derby Museums relies on funding and grants from organisations and donations from businesses and the general public. Find out more about how you can support our work through donations or by volunteering…

Find out more…

Visit our online shop


Sign up to our mailing list

Twitter: derbymuseums