The highway is a region by itself. It has its own typical billboard architecture, hands-free fast food to eat behind the wheel, daily parades in traffic jams, specific crafts like roadkill cleaning and truck driving. It even has its own police force. If you look at the map of the Dutch highways, you immediately see the contours of the country. The highway network is so intricate that you can effortlessly draw the map of the Netherlands in it. Since the construction of the first highway in 1936 between Voorburg and Zoetermeer, the Dutch highway network has grown into a network that is 2,346 km long. Hundreds of thousands of people and countless goods are in transit on this network every day. The highway has become the number one monumental structure of the last century.
The Highway Museum
The Highway Museum was a mobile unit carrying the cultural heritage of the Dutch highway. The outside panels showcased the regional history categorised in landscape, food, building style, crafts & customs, and traditional costume. Inside the museum there was room for historical artefacts and found objects. A podcast tour by Marten Minkema and Mat Wijn portrays highway life of people who spent their days in the driver’s seat.
The collection of the Highway Museum was built from scratch but grew fast because of the intensive fieldwork of the Highwaysafari, a 30-day expedition on the Dutch highways in 2009. The many encounters on the road tapped into a rich source of stories of people who spent their entire lives on and around the highway. The stories could be connected to archives of oil companies and governments to construct a new database with the highway as central subject.
The items below are part of the museum collection.
Highway Museum Audio Tour (Dutch)
The Highway Museum was a promotion tour to advocate for a National Highway Museum in addition to the existing Maritime- and Railway Museums. From 2007 until 2010 it moved through the Dutch holiday fair, mobility events, many parking lots or shopping malls and highway resting areas. In 2008 the National Council for Architecture and Landscape (Rijksbouwmeester) invited the Highway Museum to join the National campaign ”Route ontwerp” to make the highway a design task for the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat). As a follow-up of this mission the think tank Operatie Atlantis ‘Wegen naar de Toekomst’ was established. The Highway museum contributed with exhibitions, workshops, guided tours, and a highway design studio based in the middle of highway junction Terbrechtseplein.
Location The Dutch Highways
Period 2008 – 2011
Museum collection: Rob Groot Zevert, Hans Jungerius, Ron Stemers fotografie, Suzanne Valkenburg, Victor Meeuwssen
Audio tour: Marten Minkema, Mat Wijn
Graphical design: Pier Taylor
Commisioned by VNU Exhibitions Europe, Stichting Via, Provincie Brabant, Wegen naar de toekomst (RWS), Hoge School Rotterdam, Fonds BKVB, N.A.I., Route ontwerp (Ministerie VROM), I.M.I., A1 project, CROW XL.
Funding Fonds BKVB, VSB Fonds, Mondriaan fonds, Rijksbouwmeester Infrastructuur, Rijkswaterstaat
Sponsor VNU Exhibitions Europe, Bakerstreet Benelux, Dura Vermeer, EDCO, Fast Food Express, Greencore, Rode Pelikaan, Shell, Unilever, Vakantiebeurs Utrecht
Special Thanks Svetlana (catering), Vazzek (contact person Minsk), Cees Elzenga (photP.L.H. van Roozendaal (ANWB-wegenwachtmonteur), Ellen Sonderen (Receptioniste v/d Valk Motel West-End), M. Oosting (medewerker Rijkswaterstaat), G.L.J. Aalbers ( Medewerker Total Tankstation), R.H.T. Klein Hemmink ( Motoragent KLPD), Roland Blijdenstijn (Auteur ‘Buiten bedrijf, Benzinestations’), René Walhout (www.autosnelwegen.nl), Frans Zuiderhoek (Bureau Communicatie KLPD), Annaloes van der Lans (Afdeling Communicatie Fina), Bart van Schijndel (Lekkerland Nederland BV), Cora Rutteman (Texaco Nederland B.V.), PD Reklame Velp, Gebr. Slegers, Duiven, Automarkt Utrecht, Mr. Van Zande (Stichting Routiers), Antionet Adriaanse (La Place), Eric Burgers (Auto Grill)