Artisan handwork occupies a central position for the commercial life and image of this mining city founded in 1471. Woodcraft, lace making and pewter work are professionally practised and taught with passion. The museum for miner’s folk art, founded in 1929, is furnished with a rich collection of wood craft exhibits, Erzgebirge lace, and the most extensive collection of Christmas and miniature moving wooden models (Weihnachtsberge), mining equipment, and pyramids that together provide a museum’s eye view of this commercially creative city.
While lace-making was a cottage industry until the 19th century in the impoverished mining region, it is now cherished as a folk art, and taught in courses with careful attention to modern design and in collaboration with other centres throughout Europe that produce handmade needlework. In its internationally renowned Faculty for Applied Arts, the University of Applied Sciences Zwickau teaches lace making according to today’s fashions. The origin for this area of artisanal study was the Royal Saxon Lace-making School founded in 1872.
Like lace making, woodcarving drifted from a side-activity of miners to become commercially viable artisan production by trained woodcarvers. In wood design and in wood art, there is a reciprocal effect between tradition and academic training. The Schneeberg wood design programme in applied arts, a department of the West Saxon University of Applied Sciences in Zwickau, is a future oriented partner in this collaboration, and provides creative stimulation. From artisanal roots, a wide array of modern small to mid-sized businesses have developed, whose focus of business operation is in the mechanical engineering, metalwork and electrotechnical sectors. A majority of these businesses are located in the commercial district, “Am Gerichtsberg.”
The centuries-old designation of “school city” still applies to Schneeberg today. In this mining city, you will find both public and independently operated grade schools and middle schools, a grammar school and a vocational school centre, as well as a college of applied arts.