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Carders and cutters

Haarsnijder aan het werk in de fabriek. Epouse Jacobs. Foto: Stedelijk Museum Lokeren

As carders and carvers tell their stories…

Every town has a reason to be in the history books, and Lokeren deserves a chapter in the history of industry. During the first half of the 20th century, Lokeren was the centre of the hair-cutting industry, a preparatory industry that prepared rabbit and hare skins into felt hair for hat manufacturing all over the world. From the 1960s the industry began to taper off for many reasons, and today it is virtually extinct.
Because the hair-cutting industry was unique and important for Lokeren, it is obvious and necessary that a clear emphasis is put on it in the Municipal Museum. The upcoming renovation and redesign of the museum also provide an opportunity to turn the current, relatively small hair cutting department into a central theme within the permanent exhibition.
Written sources exist about the hair-cutting industry, but all the more telling are the tangible and intangible ‘relics’: the sites, the material, and especially the stories of the former employees. As experts, they are best placed to explain the industry in all its facets. The interviews with people who worked in or were closely involved with the hair cutting industry will be used as a source of information as well as a presentation element.
The interviews will be available to listen to within the permanent exhibition and on a separate information DVD. A documentary will also be made, featuring filmed interviews with some eight respondents and a site visit with one of the former employees. Furthermore, the interviews will be kept at the City Archives as source material for other studies, as the people in question often tell many more stories than that of the hair cutting business alone.
Both for the people with a past in the hair cutting business and for myself, this project is special. Besides their personal account, lots of technical explanations and names of other witnesses, a number of people donated a personal memento-their own knife or scissors, a sheet of their very last load-to the museum. They are happy that the museum looks after ‘their heritage’, and we are happy to care for it.



Leen Heyvaert,
deputy curator
Municipal Museum of Lokeren