Forty-one of Luxembourg’s museums will open their doors this weekend 14-15 May for free from 10.00 until 18.00, with a special programme for families.
Organised by ICOM Luxembourg as part of International Museum Day, the weekend’s activities are designed to raise awareness of the important cultural enrichment and exchange that museums give the public.
Concerts, free tours, and workshops encourage both young and old to participate. The first Museum Days was organised in Luxembourg in 1998, and 2,500 people attended. Recent editions have seen 20,000 or so people visit a museum. This year, there’s the chance to discover history, art, photography, literature, archaeology, natural science, and traditions and customers of yesteryear.
Naturally all the main museums in the city, as well as those in Clervaux, Wiltz, Echternach, Ettelbruck and Esch, are participating, but we thought we’d highlight some of the lesser-known ones open for this special weekend.
If you fancy trying a Heidelberg Platen press, investigating the forensics of a crime scene with a real police officer, riding the slate train, going to school in the 1900s, or taking of tour of the recently renovated National Museum of Resistance and Human Rights – try these museums.
Firefighters museum – Senningen
Travel through history to find out what it was like to be a firefighter in bygone days, with some rare exhibits, including historic fire hoses, uniforms, and equipment from the 19th to the 21st century.
There’s also a special exhibition of miniature fire engines, and a kid’s activity programme (in French, German, Luxembourgish and English). Aptly located in a former fire station.
Grand Ducal Police Museum – Capellen
Would-be police people should head to this little museum in Capellen with an exhibition entitled “Mobility: The Police Then and Now”. Much like the firefighters’ museum, you’ll be able to see what life was like as a law enforcer of yesteryear, including some spectacular uniforms (one with a busby), historical photos, vehicles and motorbikes. Tours will be given by policemen and women, and you can take part in a forensic workshop on a crime scene.
Slate Museum – Haut Martelange
At first glance, this might sound a bit “yawn”, but it’s another chance to travel back in time to witness the slate industry of the 20th century, via an 8-hectare discovery path taking you on a journey from its formation to the finished product. You can also explore the working conditions of the Martelange slate quarrymen, and the rail network that transported it.
Guided tours of this unique area will be given at 11.00 and 14.00 (French, German, Luxembourgish) or you can try a creative workshop to decorate slate. The train has been renovated and you can ride it. Booking for tours and workshops is recommended and it’s advised to wear good shoes.
Country Museum – Binsfeld
Thousands of exhibits of old antiques and photos create rural scenes from the past, specific to the region. Set across a number of rooms, you can visit a country kitchen, or see what the bedroom of an old cottage might have looked like. Housed in “a Schiewesch”, a building itself more than 300-years-old, thirty different topics of rural life are vividly depicted, with a few interesting surprises.
On Saturday and Sunday at 13.00, you can play “Farmer don’t fret”, a game similar to ludo but where children will take the place of horses.
Thillen Vogtei Museum – Rindschleide
Another chance to discover rural life in 1900, in an authentic old farm house in this picturesque village. Try your hand at bread baking, or a wood workshop. On both days at 14.00 and 16.00 children and adults can take a one hour visit to experience life at school 120 years ago, in an authentic setting.
National Museum of Resistance and Human Rights – Esch-sur-Alzette
This museum traces the history of the Grand Duchy during the Second World War, in particular Nazi repression, concentration camps and the fate of Luxembourg’s Jews. Exhibits portray this through photos, documents, objects and art. The museum is currently hosting an art exhibition of the works of Belgian expressionist and father of the graphic novel, Frans Masereel, entitled “The idea of peace”. Recently renovated, with a new location on Place de la Resistance, the museum also features a presentation on human rights. It opened earlier this year as part of Esch2022.
On both days there will be a project presentation from 14.00 to 18.00 of the results of the Who Seeks Peace project undertaken by Lycée Nic Biever in Dudelange. There’ll also be guided tours of the art exhibition at 14.00 and again at 15.30, and an art workshop from 14.00 to 18.00 based on the exhibition.
Luxembourg Museum of printing and playing cards – Grevenmacher
That Gutenberg Press changed everything according to many historians, and you can see an exhibition on the timeline and history of printing (texts in English, French and German) at this little museum. Another exhibition, Jean Dieudonné, illustrates the techniques of playing card production and the history of the family who manufactured them in Grevenmacher.
Try your hand at printing on old presses in Grevenmacher
Photo: Anouk Antony
There are multi-lingual tours and a wide range of workshops. On Saturday there’s a guided tour for children aged 6-12 years at 11.00, and free guided tours of the Dieudonné exhibition at 14.30, and the Gutenberg Revisited exhibition at 16.00. The latter includes a demonstration of the printing process on the original Heidelberg Platen press. On Sunday there’s a printing workshop for all at 10.30, so you can try your hand on some of the printing presses of the Kulturhuef Museum.
At 11.30 another workshop invites you to personalise your t-shirt with a print on the historical toggle press (if you plan to join this workshop, bring a t-shirt that has been washed at least once). There’s a chance to meet the artist Neckel Scholtus, who will guide you through her exhibition at 14.30, after which you can experiment with the historical toggle press.
Interactive map of museums
An interactive map (here) allows you to see where the 41 participating museums are located, and the programmes they will be running. In the city, this includes the Luxembourg City Museum, the Casino Luxembourg, MUDAM, Dräi Eechelen Museum, the National Museum of History and Art, the Natural History Museum, the Tramway and Bus Museum, Villa Vauban and the Museum of Customs and Excise.
International Museum Day has taken place annually since 1977, connecting and uniting different countries and peoples via museums across the globe. Last year, some 37,000 museums in 158 countries participated.