Eindhoven’s Museum in the City

1. Context

Eindhoven, in the Netherlands, is a city that is mostly known for design and technology. Dutch Design Week is a key event and the city hosts educational institutes like the Design Academy Eindhoven and the Technical University. It also has a number of companies, such as Philips, DAF Trucks Global and ASML. According to the Cultural and Creative Cities Monitor 2019, Eindhoven is the most innovative city of Europe and it is one of the fastest growing cities of the Netherlands.

2. Eindhoven and culture

In 2016 Cultuur Eindhoven was installed as an independent foundation, responsible for carrying out the cultural policy of the city of Eindhoven (previously undertaken by the local government). In 2012 the Eindhoven Museum was established after a merger of the prehistorical village and the Museum Kempenland (the museum then responsible for the management and preservation of the historical collection of Eindhoven) and it carries out the function of a Local Museum of Cultural History.

One of the key challenges the museum faces is not having a physical building. This, combined with a need to adapt to an ever-changing city and keep the collection relevant for audiences, led to the establishment of Museum door de Stad in 2018. With Museum door de Stad, Eindhoven Museum tries to bring the history of the city to the people, through elements for which Eindhoven is famous: design and innovation. The exhibition aims to attract audiences to the field of heritage, a common challenge in Eindhoven.

With Museum Door de Stad, Eindhoven museum tries to bring the history of the city to the people, through elements for which Eindhoven is famous: design and innovation.

3. Project goals and implementation

3.1. Main and specific objectives

The general aim of Eindhoven Museum is to provide insight into the way historical events contribute to the identity and ongoing development of Eindhoven.

Museum door de Stad’s initial goals were:

  1. To make the public aware of where the city’s cultural identity comes from, and where society is going
  2. To use the collection in a new and creative way
  3. To experiment with being a museum present throughout city
  4. To challenge designers to create experiences that are sustainable, reusable and that invite public interaction

Museum door de Stad’s long term goal is to establish a permanent place in the city where audiences can experience the history of Eindhoven.

Museum Door de Stad's long term goal is to establish a permanent place in the city where audiences can experience the history of Einghoven.

3.2. Project development

Main actions developed

Museum door de Stad travelled through the city of Eindhoven with pop-up installations inspired by the city and Eindhoven Museum’s cultural and historical collection. From 2018 to 2020, Museum door de Stad had five themes, linked to events that were already taking place: Food, Mobility, 75 years liberated, 100 years greater Eindhoven and Building the future.

The project invited designers to create installations that fostered audience participation. The designers made use of objects in the collection and the installation had to either:

  • be interactive
  • be set in the yearly theme and work with past, present and future
  • make use of the historical collection of Eindhoven
  • have some data collection
  • be sustainable

Through partnerships with different events and locations in the city, the project reached out to inhabitants who don’t commonly attend such events. Eindhoven Museum also launched an online marketing campaign, enlisting famous personalities and engaging audiences outside of Eindhoven.

4. Impact

4.1. Direct impact

Impact on local government

Heritage is a subject that is on the agenda in the Netherlands, both locally and nationally, and Museum door de Stad helped to raise its profile in Eindhoven. The project has gained the trust of local and regional policy makers and national cultural funds. This has helped the museum pursue its ambition to transform the current open-air museum into a new historical museumpark VONK!, planned for the next three to four years. Additionally, the local government increased the strategic use of design in their projects.

Impact on culture and on local cultural actors

Museum door de Stad is a good example of a cross-disciplinary project, bringing together creatives and designers. As a demonstration of the ongoing collaboration between design and heritage, Eindhoven Museum is also part of a new Cultuur Eindhoven project that began in February 2020, which connects heritage organisations and creative industries to develop opportunities in the field of heritage.

Museum Door de Stad enlarged the overall visitor numbers of Eindhoven museum by a third.

Impact on the territory and population

Museum door de Stad enlarged the visitor numbers of Eindhoven Museum by a third. The project itself attracted 16.750 participants in 2019. The museum also diversified its public outreach to first time visitors. The number of international visitors increased significantly and the project enabled Eindhoven Museum to expand its network of partners beyond the cultural sector. An important result was the increased visibility of the museum, both in Eindhoven and within the cultural sector nationally, and Eindhoven Museum has been able to rebrand itself as an innovative historical museum that embraces experimentation.

4.2. Evaluation

The Eindhoven Museum reports on a number of KPIs, although special attention was paid to the diversity of audiences. Besides the evaluation with Eindhoven Museum, the local government surveys inhabitants each year, evaluating visiting, experiencing and participating in culture and heritage.

4.3. Key factors

Working in public space was one of the challenges presented by the project, which involved issues such as obtaining legal permits or ensuring installations can be placed outside without supervision. Other lessons learnt were related to developing flexibility when collaborating with diverse stakeholders. Finally, since the online communication and marketing was focused on interaction, it was sometimes challenging to find a balance between allowing open debate and taking charge when people became inappropriate.

4.4. Continuity

Eindhoven Museum is transforming as an organisation, not only by working on the project Museum door de Stad, but also by planning a new interactive museum park, VONK!. In the coming years, Museum door de Stad will act as a promotor for this museum, as well as facilitating the involvement of Eindhoven residents. The next step for Museum door the Stad is to go to different neighbourhoods. The goal is to build an object, together with neighbourhoods, that can be placed in VONK!.

5. Further information

Eindhoven was a candidate for the third “UCLG Mexico City – Culture 21 International Award” (November 2019 – May 2020). The jury for the award drew up its final report in July of 2020, and requested that the Committee on Culture promote this project as one of the good practices to be implemented through Agenda 21 for culture.

This article was written by Anne Sulman, Policy Officer, Municipality of Eindhoven, Netherlands.
Contact: annesulman@cultuureindhoven.nl
Website: www.eindhoven.nl / www.cultuureindhoven.nl

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