Errol van de Werdt

General Director, TextielMuseum Tilburg


Goirkestraat 96 5046 GN Tilburg The Netherlands


Tilburg, The Netherlands

BankGiro Loterij Museumprijs 2017



Textile Heritage Revisited; Touching our Sensual and Mental Existence


The art of producing a thread from plants or hair that is strong enough to be processed further is one of the oldest human cultural techniques. Textiles surround us everywhere in our daily life. Nowadays textiles play an essential role in the creative industry. (Fashion) designers (interior) architects, artists use textile materials, advanced techniques and crafts to develop new design.

For a couple of years economists, philosophers and visionaries have been heralding a new industrial revolution. They talk about the makers industry 2.0. The makers industry is about the modern crafts. Personalisation, sustainability and rethinking the use of resources and of new techniques are the basic principles.

Textiles have always been taken an essential role in our economy. To deal with contemporary issues in our rapidly changing world new 21st century skills are needed in creativity, problem solving, cooperation and communication skills. The makers process is a tool to develop these skills in the best way possible.


Our textile museum is taking part in this Zeitgeist. Our museum is fully dedicated to textile heritage from the past, present and future.

The TextielMuseum is not a classical heritage museum. The TextielLab is its beating heart where designers, artists and students from all over the globe work on innovative products.  Textile art is created for international commissions, prototypes are developed, research and development is executed and visitors can follow the creative process up close. Our mission is to keep textile crafts and heritage alive by developing, reinterpreting and passing on textile art, fashion and design.

2.  The origin of our heritage; The industrial past reflected in the heritage collection
The TextielMuseum is located in what once was a thriving wool capital of the Netherlands. The museum recalls the rich history of the textile industry.

The TextielMuseum started as an important place of memory reflecting the glorious industrial past of the city of Tilburg. Textiles are in the city’s DNA.
The combination of the restored industrial building combined with modern architecture reflects the concept of our institution: creating a dialogue about the past and present of the local and European textile industry and the promotion of heritage based creative industry.

3.  Crucial steps; transition from place of memory to a working museum
Industrial heritage buildings and a heritage collection were the ingredients for a classical museum approach. They were the starting point for our transition into a working museum by adding a lab facility to the museum concept. The beating heart of the working museum is the TextielLab, a specialised workshop, partly a laboratory for the manufacturing of woven and knitted textiles. We create an ideal place to work for professionals. By facilitating designers, artists, fashion designers and students with the knowledge and expertise of our product developers and technicians, it is possible to explore the endless possibilities of materials and techniques. We facilitate the professionals with all the support they need. The heritage collection of the museum plays a crucial role in these. The visitors are also given open access to the activities of the institute.
Beside creating an ideal place to work, the institute also offers an ideal place to learn for talented young students to develop their skills in the best way possible.

 4. The next step towards a makers museum is made
The next step to become a more inclusive makers museum has been made. We created a design and makers studio (CYDP) in our professional lab to include visitors in a similar way as it does with the professional makers. From now on we consider everybody from professional to student and our visitors as makers adapting to their different levels of skills. You enter the museum as a visitor and leave the premises as a maker.

Next to this studio we also included a junior lab a derivative of the professional lab.
Here families and children can get acquainted with the possibilities of textiles and develop skills that are needed to create a generation of talented students of the future.
The makers museum is anticipating the new industrial revolution: the making industry 2.0. More than ever people are inspired by creating or making. The visitors are able to personalise their own design by selecting materials, patterns, choosing colours.
Through this concept of the makers museum of textiles an ideal working and learning place for professionals, students and visitors has been created to develop skills, creativity and to let their talents flourish.  For the professional a new place to do research, experiment and to work on innovation has arisen. We support them with modern technology to develop and realise from low end to high end designs, art objects and prototypes.

5. What is the role of textile heritage in the museum concept
Our museum collection and archives are part of our shared cultural capital. Within the museum wall are centuries of accumulated knowledge on crafts, materials, techniques, patterns and dye recipes. They function as a source of knowledge and inspiration for artists and designers. 
The collection is not only used for creating inspiring exhibitions and events; textile heritage is reinterpreted. Prototypes, autonomous works and exclusive productions are developed. New heritage is made here.

6. How heritage collections are re-interpreted
The reinterpretation of heritage is a core activity executed in our TextielLab. Reinterpretation is the act of reformulating something in a new or different way. It is through reinterpretation by artists and designers who are inspired by the heritage collection that heritage based legacy lives on for future generations. For us innovation is a way of rethinking the way we have done things so far, by adding new technology, modern yarns and the vision of artists new cultural heritage is born.


7. We reposition our museum in society
With our museum we intend to become a more integral part of our society and daily life.
Participation, democratisation and inclusiveness are key to achieving this development. We have to find new manners to broaden the ways we connect with communities and share an inclusive identity. The museum will provide routes for self-discovery and permanent education for everybody. Heritage plays an important role in reflecting the identity of societies.
The museum takes its role in social innovation and inclusion. To do so we create chances for people with a distance to the labour market. In cooperation with a local handloom organisation and a social label line we have started to develop high quality design objects with these makers.

Through the concept of our museum, the combination of a heritage collection and TextielLab its more than just a museum. Professionals, students and visitors are facilitated on the basis of insights of recent developments of the making industry principles to participate through personal development, by experiment, learning and research in a museum which is in the middle of society acting on a global-local interaction.
We take responsibility on contemporary themes. The world is our playground. Together with the partners in our international network we are ready for tomorrow. Just come and see us, learn, experience and enjoy.



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