The Silesian identity is closely connected with the fluctuating political associations of its regions. The OSLM communicates this knowledge in Germany. Its activities are enabled by the State of North Rhine Westphalia, the Partner state of the Upper Silesians and partner state of the voivodship of Silesia. The supporter of the museum inaugurated in 1983 is the Haus Oberschlesien foundation, founded in 1970. The permanent exhibition is accommodated in the new building, moved to in 1998. The museum works in a partner-based way as part of a broad European dialogue. As a consequence, a contractual collaboration has been agreed upon since 2010 with more than a dozen Polish partners. This trustworthy working together leads to reciprocal exhibition projects and the lending of authentic exhibits.
Mining cable sheaves from the Upper Silesian coal mine of Knurow hang high next to the museum building. The OSLM displays the common mining tradition in the form of this industrial memorial from the Prussian era. In the museum itself the permanent exhibition showcases Silesia from the Middle Ages to contemporary times. A focus is placed on the history of Prussia over the course of 200 years. The economic development of Prussia brought with it major changes to Upper Silesia. The region was completely transformed, particularly due to industrialisation. As a result, a major part of the museum's own collection originates from this epoch. The collection includes silverwork, Proskau faience, Silesian porcelain and cast iron, weapons, maps and postcards. The history of industry and transport with a focus on Prussia is especially important for Upper Silesia, and for this reason is the subject of a special department in the museum.
The Ruhr Area in close proximity enables tours to the industrial-cultural heritage of the Ruhr Area (with settlements, panoramas, industrial museums, collieries, coking plants etc.) that are summarised in a "Route of Industrial Culture" stretching over 400 km (http://www.route-industriekultur.ruhr/).
Just a few kilometres away from the OSLM is one of the oldest preserved industrial facilities in Germany – the Cromford cotton mill in Ratingen. This was founded in 1783/84 by the entrepreneur and merchant Johann Gottfried Brügelmann from Wuppertal, and is considered to be the first fully mechanical cotton mill to have existed on the European continent. Today it accommodates the LWL-Industriemuseum – Cromford textile factory.