I have packed in so much into the time here, yet would happily stay longer to unearth more about the history of the place and the impact that that has on the success of the museum and the venture of the Lab. Tilburg has similarities with some of our smaller Yorkshire mill towns and Luton and its hatting as the industry was composed of 150 SME’s just 40 larger companies and in its hey day employed 15,000 workers, producing 65% of the wool production in The Netherlands.
Tilburg has no notable industry left socio geographers would see this as Phantom industry in having no direct economic industry but social scars from the past. The museum has become a small catalyst for social regeneration. All the members that I met at the museum were highly positive and saw this as a great opportunity to create new opportunities and tell the story of the textiles industry which had formed the town. The Tilburg model could be another way to do this with the appropriate regional and national support and collaborative structure between artisans, academia and museums.
I first heard of Tilburg from Eugenie van Oirschot, a milliner from The Netherlands, when I attended a workshop with her in Edinburgh. She spoke with such zeal about what the museum and textile lab achieved for designers and the artisan community that I wrote it down in my wish list. To have finally visited and had the opportunity to see it in action thanks to the Winston Churchill Fellowship I understand that passion. The museum is a definite catalyst for change in the community and the region, thanks to its inspirational vision and a team who work together to inspire and aspire to new textiles futures.