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new museum extracts a hidden history

A department store disguised as a museum, or a museum disguised as a department store? The building of the once-famous Kneepkens department store in Heerlen accommodates the new Dutch Mining Museum. A perfect location, because 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. In the new museum, visitors imagine themselves in the former department store and go 'shopping'. Inside, they 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. With this, a part of history that has long been kept hidden finally sees the light of day.

Visitors experience the forgotten stories of the hard work, the successes, the solidarity, and the dark side of this exhaustive industry. The four floors each have their own theme based on colours. They start at Black, where they discover the story of coal and the miner. The second floor, Gold, reflects almost tangibly the prosperity that the coal industry brought to the Mining Area. The third floor is Grey and shows the frightening other side of the coin, such as the unhealthy working environment and the disastrous social consequences of the mine closure. The top floor is called Colour and takes the visitors along in the transition and the colourful future of the region.


  • client  dutch mining museum
  • year  2022
  • www  nederlandsmijnmuseum.nl
  • concept & exhibtion design  tinker imagineers with peter beckers
  • interactives & multimedia  bureau linksom, submedia, de jongens van boven
  • lighting design  50lux
  • construction  clabbers interieur bv, houtatelier borger, sync signing
  • photography  mike bink


  • finalist  win awards 2022
  • finalist  sbid international design awards 2022

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