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tinker extracts a hidden history at the dutch mining museum


A department store disguised as a museum, or a museum disguised as a department store. What is going on here? The building of the once-famous Kneepkens department store in Heerlen will accommodate the new Dutch Mining Museum. The location makes sense when you realise that in the heyday of coal mining (the mid-1950s), Heerlen had the largest number of department stores in the Netherlands. Due to the thriving industry, there were many miners with money to spend, and this department store was built by and for these miners. Hardly anyone knows that at that time, the largest industrial zone of the Netherlands was located underneath this store. The listed building, designed by renowned architect Peutz and erected in 1939, is commonly known as the Little Glass Palace on account of its glass façade.

Together with the museum, Tinker imagineers develops an innovative concept. Across four floors, you will discover the unique story of the rise, the glory days, and the decline of coal mining in South Limburg, and the impact it had on society. A part of history that has long been kept hidden finally sees the light of day.

Visitors imagine themselves in the department store of yesteryear and go ‘shopping’ in the museum. It tells the story of the fantastic collaboration between the state, the mining company, and the church that resulted in an incredibly successful coal industry. A completely new society was designed at the drawing board, and South Limburg was literally reinvented. The Dutch Mining Museum tells the forgotten stories of the hard work, the successes, the solidarity, and the dark side of this exhaustive industry.

The current location of the Dutch Mining Museum, the shaft and collection building of the Oranje-Nassau I mine, remains part of the museum. The opening is scheduled for 1 May 2022.