Museumplein Limburg in Kerkrade is home to no fewer than three museums: Columbus, Cube and Continium. Together, according to director Hans Gubbels, these museums tell a story about the relationship between humanity and the world in which we live.
The Columbus Earth Theater reveals how beautiful but also how vulnerable our planet is, and provides insight into how human beings coexist with Earth. The Cube Design Museum focuses on design and development for human needs, also known as functional design. Last but not least, Continium is dedicated to science and technology. Here, more complex stories about our world are revealed in an exciting, accessible and playful way.
What makes the three museums so unique is their interactive and engaging character. "We don't have curators who put together an exhibition and pretend to have a monopoly on wisdom", Gubbels explains. "Instead we involve the public, students and the business sector. At Cube, for instance, students from different study programmes around the region are continually working on new, functional design concepts. We have students from Zuyd University of Applied Sciences in Heerlen and RWTH Aachen University, but also from knowledge institutes in Eindhoven, Liège and Hasselt. They challenge visitors to think with them on design concepts and to express their needs. This is a very innovative approach, and one that has been well-received on all sides."
Kerkrade lies at the southernmost tip of Limburg. Not exactly the most convenient place for museums – or is it? "This location, at the crossroads of the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, forces us to think in terms of Europe", Gubbels says. "In fact, it offers unprecedented opportunities, for instance to collaborate with foreign museums. And let's not forget that around 25% of visitors come from abroad, a figure we hope to increase still further in the coming years." He expects this growth to come about not only through traditional marketing on the other side of the border, but also through partnerships with other bodies and organisations. "A good example is the collaboration with primary schools in the Aachen region. They place a real premium on children learning about science and technology, and send many hundreds of pupils to Continium on school trips every year."
Expertise in Euregional engagement
Given their location, the three museums have developed special expertise in the area of cross-border cooperation, something other parties in the Netherlands would like to tap into. "We participate in various national initiatives, such as Click.nl and the Creative Industries Top Sector", Gubbels says. "Thanks to our expertise in the cultural sector in Germany, they're extremely keen to work with us."
"We participate in various national initiatives, such as Click.nl and the Creative Industries Top Sector. Thanks to our expertise in the cultural sector in Germany, they're extremely keen to work with us."