Do you remember? We are celebrating our 15th anniversary at QKunst this year and our treat is art. In March we announced to give away three concept sketches for a location of your choice. The coming months, we would like to tell you more about the three winning locations: the ‘Spoorzone’ in Helmond (Southern Netherlands); Long Street in Soweto, Johannesburg; and the Ritakerk in Amsterdam-Noord. We’re kicking of with Helmond, where Esther Hartzema is quartermaster for the Van Gend & Loos building.
What can you tell us about this location?
‘The Van Gend & Loos building is a striking building in the railway area of Helmond. The building will be renovated between now and mid-2020 by the owners and in collaboration with EU Architecture and Urbanism. At the same time, the City of Helmond wants to give an impulse to the area. Mid 2020, the EDAHmuseum (EDAH was a chain of supermarkets in the area) and the Draaiorgelmuseum (Barrel organ Museum) will move into the building. Until recently, both museums had their own spot in town, where they successfully shared their cultural heritage collections with the public. We hope to open a new museum next year, where both collections, separately and jointly, will tell the story of the workers’ life in 20th century Helmond. At the same time, we strive to make connections between present and future in all the exhibitions.’
Why did you choose to submit this location?
‘For two reasons: The first is that the Van Gend & Loos building is still being developed and it is situated in an area that is also still being developed. Because this was so specifically stated in the QKunst call for entries, we thought we might have a good chance to win. And we were right! Moreover, it is a striking location: the rear area of the building is situated alongside the tracks, with thousands of travellers passing by daily, at low speed, when their train arrives in or leaves the city. The boards of both museums, the owner of the building and the architect would be thrilled to offer these travellers a glimpse of the collections and the related stories within these walls. The wall on the rear side – the intended location for the concept sketch – is an eye-catcher that could perfectly serve to connect the outside and the inside. It might just become The Netherlands biggest billboard. The second reason is that it is quite a difficult task to join two museums in one building. They don’t need to merge, but they need to collaborate. Having something to work on together and to be proud of – separately from organising the collection and choosing the interior design – can help to achieve that. The concept sketch and possible realisation is very well suited for that.’
What is your role in the process?
‘I’m the quartermaster. In the first stages of the project, I met all the parties involved and took note of everybody’s wishes. Now that this preparatory stage is over and we are moving onto the realisation phase, I am more of a project manager. I need to bring – and keep – all the parties together and make sure that all the plans we have in mind when it comes to exhibitions, programming and education, will actually be realised.’
Esther Hartzema, front, left, together with representatives of both museum boards, the architecture agency, the city council and the owner. | Photo: Véronique Baar
QKunst 15 years: location Helmond