AbstractThis study examined the development of municipal museum collections in the cities of Eindhoven, Helmond and Tilburg in the southern Dutch province of Noord-Brabant between 1916 and 2018. Drawing from the perspective of identity processes, the analysis focused on how in these collections significance was attributed to local industries.
The results of this research show that both the rise and decline (home) industry offer motivations for individuals and groups to include objects in museum collections. Those involved in developing these collections range from inhabitants, amateur historians, antiquarians and archivists, to governors of the municipality and museum professionals. Fear of losing historical artefacts as well as pride in emphasizing the city's own identity were cited as reasons for musealizing objects.
For this research, I have examined the actors involved in the museum collecting practices, their arguments for acquiring objects, the kinds of objects they collected, the geographical perspective(s) underlying the collections and the ways in which the locations - where the collections were stored and presented - influenced the collecting process. Further more, I have studied how these collecting practices related to developments of industrialisation and deindustrialisation in the selected cities. The study is based on extensive archival research carried out in the museums and regional archives, containing annual reports, minutes, policy papers and newspaper articles. In addition, I have conducted interviews with selected curators and registrars.
In all three cities amateur historians, antiquarians and archivists started collecting objects in the interwar period. Both the bygone and remaining (home) industry were represented in encyclopaedic museum collections in Eindhoven and in Helmond. In Tilburg local historians also advocated establishing a city museum, but only in 1956 did the municipality decide to set up a museum entirely devoted to the local thriving textile industry.
From the 1960s onwards, in all three cities the role of local historians was increasingly taken over by museum professionals who still attributed significance to the local industries in these collections, albeit from different perspectives. The decline of industries in the 1970s resulted in unemployement and negative feelings towards factory work. In Helmond, for instance, people did not want to be reminded of this difficult past. In addition, from the 1980s onwards, museums were expected to operate more independently and to distinguish themselves from other museums. This resulted in Museum Kempenland Eindhoven focussing on collecting craft and regional art, while Museum Helmond developed an international collection called ‘Man and Work’. The TextielMuseum in Tilburg put together an Industrial Heritage collection of objects and machines and settled in a former factory complex.
However, the collections in Eindhoven and Helmond no longer only expressed the industrial characteristics of the city or region, where they were established, but also emphasized the importance of the museum’s identity. From the 1990s onwards, both cities show a trend of individuals or communities forming new museums and collections, such as the Philips Museum, the DAF Museum and the Industrial Heritage Foundation Helmond. In a period of further industrial decline, the people involved in these new initiatives no longer recognized themselves in the museum’s strategies and created their own collections in order to attribute significance to local industries in their respective cities.
To sum up, this study shows that between 1916 and 2018 both the bygone and remaining (home) industry offer motivation for individuals and communities, such as city residents, amateur historians, antiquarians and archivists, but also governors of the municipality and museum professionals to musealise industrial objects and locations. Fearing the loss of specific objects and histories, but also in order to foster pride about (past) industrial achievemenst, they aim to reinforce their city’s identity.
|Date of Award||26 Feb 2020|
|Supervisor||Pieter de Bruijn (Supervisor) & Janny Bloembergen - Lukkes (Examiner)|