Originally Blists Hill was an industrial region consisting of a brick and tile works, blast furnaces and coal, iron and fire clay mines. The museum was opened in 1973 and has been growing ever since. The museum’s buildings fall into one of three categories, buildings that were already part of the industrial site, buildings that represent a generic type and original buildings that have been relocated to the museum.
The museum has three districts, a town area with Victorian era shops such as a bank, bakery, bicycle shop and post office. An industrial district that provided various employment from a blast furnace and wrought iron works and a countryside district with buildings such as a squatters cottage and tin roof church. The museum has been used as a venue for various TV and film programmes including Doctor Who and Blue Peter.