Museum (of Many Things) in Kerkrade

We have been recently invited, by Ralf Fleuren, our new colleague at FBA, to visit a new museum in the town of Kerkrade, located not far from Maastricht in the province of Limburg. It is in fact not even one museum but three, and the name of this museum constellation is Museumplein Limburg, the Square of Museums.

And it’s not actually a ‘new’ museum – we knew this place already for ages, although under the different name, and with different identity. Previously this was a combination of a regional museum (with a very interesting exposition of the mines, that this region was famous with in the past), and a science part of some sort for children. We’ve been to this museum number of time with our son, enjoying its playful yet informative exhibitions.

Much has changed since then. The old museum is transformed into so called Continium Discovery Center, and two new museums are added: Columbus Earth Center and Cube Design Museum. The picture above is in fact a fragment of this Cube, and the one below also shows a fragment of the Columbus’ Dome.

But it’s not ‘all from scratch’: the new design has a nice quality, of being very contemporary and modern, yet somehow linked to the legacy and history, of museum itself, and of the region. This is expressed very nicely, even in the interior design elements (like this reddish walls of the design museum, referring to the geological structure of the soil in this region, that was famous for its mines and quarries.)

We have started our tour from the design wing, a five-floor Cube filled with design:

The intention of this exposition is not so much to show the sleek and fashionable objects, but to demonstrate the way with which designers see (and change) thee world, to illustrate the process of design (or ‘design thinking’, how it is called these days).

For example, the upper flow was about 3D printing, but again, not so much about technology but about what it can bring to different aspects of our life, from useful things, to ‘useless art’, and to everything else in between.

The device on the last picture is in fact a 3D printer of pancakes (pity there was not pancakes printed at the moment).

Another floors were filled with ‘other designs’, the examples of kind of contemporary design manifestations, from all over the world (this was a pretty unique exhibition showing the materials from six different design museum in the world).

Above is the now famous Hippo Water Roller and below is no-less famous Life Straw:

I never particularly liked i-Cat (I consider it’s very mediocre design-wise, but still quite advanced in terms of technology, for its time). But, but… it’s nevertheless a very memorable object for me, and it reminds me of many years spent in Philips Design:

There were few more visitors in the museum, but really only a very few (at least in this design wing).

The last floor (‘last’ for us, in really it was the first floor) was occupied with a permanent exhibition, showing the Big Picture of design developments:

Really interesting collection, and also very originally presented:


We didn’t manage to get to the Columbus part this time (the reason to come back soon), but we made (quite a nostalgic, I should add) walk in the old part of the museum, where they present interesting learning materials for kids.

We of course believe that the complex issues issues that we’ve seen in the first, design part, should be also presented in a similar, much more playful and interactive way… but these beliefs are better expressed in a form of a specific proposal for the museum. We’ll work on that 🙂


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