Dutch Mining Museum

exhibition design

A department store disguised as a museum, or a museum disguised as a department store? The new Dutch Mining Museum by Tinker imagineers is not a museum in the traditional sense of the word. Instead, the focus is on the many stories from a past that reaches far beyond the city and the region. The task was to create a museum that would cover the entire Limburg coal mining industry, from the opening of the first mine to the closure of the last, with special focus on the lives of the miners and their families.

The starting point was to show everything that has ever been done with mining in the southern Netherlands and what remains of it today. The new museum needed to give an insight into what was physically there, but it also had to show the relevant influences and consequences on a political, social, economic, cultural and mental level. The compelling design immerses the visitor in the story of mining history above ground, showing not only the successes but also the downsides of this exhausting industry. Visitors imagine themselves in the department store of yesteryear, the once-famous Kneepkens department store in Heerlen, and go ‘shopping’. The exhibition tells the unique story of the rise, the glory days, and the decline of coal mining in the South Limburg region and its impact on society. With this new museum, a part of history that has long been kept hidden finally sees the light of day.