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Places Around Maastricht: Lumiere Cinema

Type of Place: Independant Movie Theater

Location:Bogaardenstraat 40-B; 6211 SP Maastricht


Not from the movie, but a cowboy none the less. Image by Randy Pertiet via CC License.

This article was originally published at Maastricht Region: to Live.

Last Sunday, Dan and I finally made the time to see a film at Maastricht’s independent film house, Lumiere Cinema. Not your typical destination for the usual Hollywood blockbusters, Lumiere brings a collection of films from around the world that otherwise would not likely be aired locally.

A trip to the Lumiere Cinema will take you up past the Markt Square and into an attractive old building which houses 5-6 theaters and a nice cafe. The cafe in fairly inexpensive with finger foods and drinks available for before and after your film. Just remember that snacks are not welcome inside. Because the theaters are on the small side, popular films often fill up quickly (our first attempt to see True Grit at Lumiere met with failure; it was sold out). To avoid disappointment, especially on the weekends, it’s best to reserve your seats in advance via their website. You don’t have to pay online, so it is quite convenient. Tickets are reasonable at 8 euros for adults and can be even less with a yearly lumierepas.

Because Lumiere’s films come from both Dutch and international producers, its important to check if the film you want to see is in a language you’ll understand. Most films are shown in their original language with Dutch subtitles, but a small collection are also shown with English subtitles. Their website is an excellent place to double check language (as well as times and available films), and it even features an English Section, which lists films either originally in English or subtitled in the language.

In addition to their normal rotation of films, Lumiere also participates in several film and artistic festivals throughout the year. This week they will be showing films for the “Queer It Up” festival (February 15-20). Another ongoing series is “Footprint Films”, a series of sustainability themed films arranged by Maastricht students intended to raise awareness in their peers. The 2011 “Made in Europe” Film Festival will also be screening several films at the Lumiere.

To learn more about the theater and all it has to offer, visit the Lumiere Cinema website.

P.S. – Unlike some Dutch theaters, Lumiere has done away with the pause in the middle of films (or at least it had for True Grit). Welcome to the 21st century Dutch cinema.

The cowboy image is (c) Randy Pertiet and used via a Creative Commons-by Attribution License.

Places Around Maastricht: Bonnefanten Museum

Type of Place: Art Museum
Location: Avenue Ceramique 250

Unmissable along the banks of the Meuse as it flows through Maastricht is the silver tower of the Bonnefanten Museum. Inside is housed an every changing collection of art, both old and new. From here in the Netherlands and around the world. The “Old Masters” collection focuses on medival art from the Southern Netherlands, Maas region woodcarvings, and several Italian masters. Rounding this out is the Contemporary Art collection which includes an ever changing mix of artists from all over the world.

Museum steps by andrebiazoti via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

Temporary exhibits are the highlight of the Bonnefanten Museum and they will frequently have 3 or 4 special exhibits at any give time. In addition there is often a special installation in the top of the silver tower, and even their permanent collection gets changed up periodically; making return visits every so often worth your time. Currently the permanent collection is laid out for “Augenspiel”, an attempt to re-contextualize various pieces across traditional lines. The temporary exhibits are on Sidi El Karchi, Bas de Wit, Pierre Kemp, and The Invisible Color.

Art is naturally very subjective, but I’ve enjoyed the Bonnefanten Museum when I visit. The temporary exhibits in particular are frequently a great chance to see something a little different and often are very modern or abstract.  Sidi El Karchi’s beautiful, comic-like portraits are particularly worth going to see, especially when placed in contract to Bas de Wit’s grotesquely surreal works.

On the other hand, I did not enjoy the attempt by the “Augenspiel” exhibit to deconstruct the cultural and temporal context of the permanent collection. Personally I feel that art is strongest when viewed within its original cultural context and without that the viewer is simply left to flounder. The inclusion of booklets detailing each piece just added to the feeling that this reorganization is missing its mark.  Still, you will find some interesting works within; even if you don’t like the organization.

In addition to the museum, the Bonnefanten also has a small, but tasty cafe with outdoor seating within view of the river, which is nice during the summer. Live music events are often hosted there as well.  They accept the Museumkaart and if you plan on returning (or visiting other Dutch museums) frequently, I highly recommend you pick one up.

The Bonnefanten Museum is 8 euros for adults and 4 for children. They are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:30 am to 5 pm and Mondays when there is a national holiday.

Image by andrebiazoti used via Creative Commons.

Places around Maastricht: Centre Ceramique Library

image (cc) >WouteR< via Flickr

image (cc) >WouteR< via Flickr

Type of place: Library
Location: 1992 Plein, Centre Ceramique
The Centre Ceramique library is a modern building located in the Wijk-region of Maastricht just across the footbridge. It is large and cube-shaped with lots of glass and light that you would be hard-pressed to miss if you were to wander into the area. The library inside includes five floors of books (mostly Dutch but with some English language fiction), a cafe, and audio and video collection, and meeting and practice rooms for students or others who are musically inclined. You will also find both permanent and rotating collections of art and other cultural artifacts that keeps the library a fresh and interesting place to visit.
Books Books Books
The Centre Ceramique library has a large collection of nonfiction and fiction works as well as many audio books, music CDs, and movies. They even have a respectable, if all Dutch language, collection of graphic novels that I can’t wait to dig into once my vocabulary has improved.
A wide variety of subjects are covered in the nonfiction areas, but probably most interesting is the large collection of Limburg-area history resources. There is also a significant language learning section. However, unfortunately for me, they are mostly for learning a language when your first language is Dutch. Some English-language nonfiction books are mixed in with the Dutch language ones, but the online catalog does not allow you to search by language so it can be hard to find them.
The fiction collection is also substantial, if smaller. The English-language fiction novels share the basement level with the kids’ department. Most mainstream novels and genres are represented, although certain genres like science fiction have less shelf space. There are more British authors then you might find in an American library and probably several translated novels from other world authors.
Events and Exhibits
World Press Photos 2009 Exhibit
In addition to providing the usual library services of circulation, reference, and research, the Centre Ceramique has two separate exhibit spaces their permanent and rotating cultural collections. In the main atrium you can usually find a temporary collection on one of innumerable topics. Since we’ve been here there have been exhibits about Natzi-Era children’s organizations, comics creators, and more. Right now the World Press Photo winners are on display. A record is kept on the library’s website of new exhibitions.
The permanent collection includes a small ceramic collection in honor of the pottery factories that once stood on this location. Here you can see examples of the pottery and painting, as well as several “test plates” used to ensure accurate colors after firing and glazing. Some of the pottery created in Maastricht was done in the so-called “Blue Delft” style but there are also a variety of other painting styles on display.
Finally, the library puts on a variety of events which you can find listed on their website. Generally these events are aimed towards children and are in Dutch, but you can keep an eye on them to see if something that appeals to you comes up.
We’re not in Boston anymore…

Statue outside the Boston Public Library. (cc) p_a_h via Flickr

If you are from the United States, you are probably accustomed to public libraries also being free libraries. Boston was the place that started this US tradition of free libraries to “educate the masses”. In the Netherlands, as in several other European countries, a nominal fee must be paid to become a member of the library. You can visit the Centre Ceramique and access their collection on site, but you cannot check books out without having a membership.
A yearly membership costs 26 euros and will allow you to check out up to 4 books (or other materials) at a time for about three weeks. There are other memberships that cost more and will allow you to check out more items and for longer. Members of the Maastricht University can get a discount or even a reciprocal library card. If this is your case then you should probably talk to be University’s library for more details.
Honestly, I have not obtained my library card yet but I have enjoyed stopping in periodically to read or write in this large modern building. Dan and I will be getting a membership with a discount through the Maastricht University so it is just a matter of time before I can start chewing through any English a literature I can find there.

Places Around Maastricht: AINSI Building

ainsi buildingType of Place: Art & Cultural Events Venue
Location: Lage Kanaaldijk 112-113; 6212NA Maastricht

On the edge of Maastricht the imposing and altogether unexpected Art Industry Nature Society Innovation (AINSI) building poses as the factory building it use to be. Although it has only been open for use for about a year, many artistic and cultural events are held there, making it an important location to keep on your radar.

The AINSI building is rented out to independent organizations and groups to host their cultural and artistic events. I’ve attended two events there. The first was a community fair, which was mostly held outside, and the second was Pecha Cucha, which was held in their theater/lecture hall. The lounge space on the first floor is also very nice with non-matching antique furniture and strange machines left over from the building’s previous cement making purpose. The building is not being completely utilized yet, but I imagine more space and rooms with be opened up. There is also a little office space in the AINSI building; for example the Maastricht Region organization keeps an office there.
ainsi lounge
I find the grungy, factory style of the AINSI building to be very appealing for a variety of casual and more formal, artistic events and I’m generally happy to head down for a large enough activity. The building’s value as a venue is unfortunately hampered by the lack of public transportation (Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either). While the distance isn’t bad by bike, maybe 15 minutes from the Vrijthof and about 30 minutes from my home, it is a bit far to walk. If you want to attend an evening event, I recommend trying to find a carpool.

The AINSI building is very near the Grotten Zonneburg, so I hope Maastricht or someone starts running a bus out this direction soon. It would be a pity to miss one of the events held here because of something as common as a thunderstorm.

Places Around Maastricht: Natuurhistorisch Museum Maastricht

Type of Place: Natural History Museum
Location: De Bosquetplein 7; 6211 KJ Maastricht

The Natuurhistorisch Museum of Maastricht is tucked away a short walk from the Vrijhof in one of the oldest parts of the city. The museum focuses heavily on fossils and the long prehistory (and history) of the region. In addition there is a Victorian-style taxidermy section and a small, cute underground mock-up of the marl caves.

Adults pay 4,50 euros on entry (save ,90 euro with a coupon from the VVV). Museum hours are Monday – Friday, 10 AM – 5 PM and Saturday – Sunday, 2 pm-5pm. While the museum is only in Dutch, you can borrow an English language booklet at the from desk that will give you the short version of each exhibit. Without reading things, you can run through the museum in about a hour.

Even if you can’t read the Dutch, there were a few things in particular worth seeing at the Natuurhistorisch Museum.
1) The Mosasaur skull found in the St. Peiters mountain in the 1990s and the a model of the first one found in the 1764. A full skeleton model is on display as well as several teeth and fragments. If you’ve seen the marl caves, this is a nice tie-in.

2) The digital globe you see when you first enter the paleontology exhibit isn’t much to look at but its actually a brilliant teaching tool. A projection of the Earth displays on the surface of a moveable globe. Around it is a circle marked with years and displaying the name of the various time periods. As you turn that ring, the continents drifted fluidly across the surface of the globe based on the time period displayed on the ring. It was one of the best displays of continental drift I’ve ever seen and is a great example of augmented reality.

3) The cast-iron front doors were striking and, frankly, ominous looking. It turns out that they were cast from actual animal and plant remains.

Final Thoughts: If you read Dutch, this is a solid museum you should visit while you’re in Maastricht. If you don’t, its still a nice diversion, but probably won’t be on the top of your list. The displays were well-suited to families.