Each month, we aim our spotlight at one of our regional partners. What are the developments within their company? What are the challenges? In short: you will not only get to know the person better, but also the company where he or she works. This month’s In the spotlight guest is Hans Gubbels, Director of Museumplein Limburg (the organization behind Columbus, Cube and Continium):
1. Why did you choose the position you have now?
“Since I was young my ambition was to create meaningful things, not only on paper, but in real life. A study in mechanical engineering seemed the ideal basis for that. After graduating and a few years at the R&D department of Océ, I started my career in the world of rides for amusement parks and world exhibitions. I worked at Vekoma as product manager, but soon started my own company, designing thematic rides, experiences and exhibitions. This gave me the chance to create many beautiful projects all over the world. Change is in my blood, so after 10 years of growth, I decided to sell my company and start my own design consultancy agency. That kept me away from home a lot and there was a risk I would turn into a “lone ranger”. By chance I saw the ad of Industrion (predecessor of Continium): they were looking for a new director. The opportunity of combining museology, the world of science and technology, visitor experiences and amazement and relevance for society, appealed to me at once. In 2004 I started in Kerkrade.”
2. What are the most recent developments within your company? (HR/renovation plans etc.)
“At the end of 2015 we opened two new visitor centres on the Museumplein. Next to Continium we now also operate Columbus earth center for which we were inspired by the experience of astronauts when looking to our earth for out of space for the first time, the so- called “Overview Effect” . The other one, Cube design museum, is the first museum of the Netherlands which is fully dedicated to design. While building our new premises we specifically kept the events and conventions market in mind. In Continium we already gained some experience in renting our spaces to third parties, but on a limited scale as we did not have dedicated areas and our first priority was and still are our visitors. Welcoming a business group and at the same time educating a class of eight year olds was not always a good combination. So in designing the buildings for the new cultural cluster on the Museumplein in Kerkrade we asked the architects to create space to receive groups apart from our daily visitors. Now we are approaching the MICE market with a large spectrum of multifunctional spaces in which meetings, parties and the likes can be organised. This event branch is organised as a separate business unit apart from our museum activities.”
3. Which challenges are you facing?
“After the opening of our cluster with all its possibilities at the of 2015 it was tempting to sit back and enjoy the new situation for a while. Our constant challenge and goal is to keep looking at the future and to keep up with new developments to stay relevant for our audiences as we engage visitors with the changing world around them. Also towards the MICE market we want to stay innovative and keep surprising our clients.”
4. What have you achieved, of which you are most proud?
“I am most proud of the fact that we have been able to keep visitor numbers for both our museums and our business events growing. When I first started here we had about 30.000 visitors a year, now we are heading towards over 150.000 visitors for 2017 , a clear indicator for the relevance of our work). Thanks to the support of the Province of Limburg and other partners who believe in our views, we are able to keep developing ourselves into a successful cultural entrepreneurial organization.”
5. What does the Maastricht Convention Bureau mean to you?
“The knowledge and network that are gathered through the MCB are of great value to us as a relatively new player on the business market. As a location that is situated in the regio around Maastricht we appreciate it that the MCB makes an effort to promote the entire region as the “place to be” when it comes to a destination for meetings and conferences. The combination of Maastricht as a city and the characteristics of the surrounding region create strength for our mutual future.”