The Historisch Centrum Limburg (HCL) was found in 2019 when the municipal archives of Heerlen ('Rijckheyt') merged with the 'Regionaal Historisch Centrum Limburg' (RHCL). In turn, the latter was found in 2004 when the state archives of Limburg or Rijksarchief in Limburg (RAL) and the municipal archives of Maastricht ('Gemeentearchief Maastricht') merged.
The HCL is a service-oriented information center for the history and culture of the Limburg province and the municipalities of Heerlen and Maastricht. The HCL also hosts the largest depository for public and private archives in the province. In our depots we keep a wealth of historic sources. According to the Dutch law, we are a public body.
national policy Regional Historic Centers
Since the 1890s, increased social attention for cultural heritage has taken center stage in the country policy on archives. Governments have realised that, in addition to legal tasks, a more ambitious presentation of our cultural heritage is necessary to reach a wider public and generate more cultural participation. Even the public itself has expressed an increasing need to make better use of the intellectual, recreational and touristic opportunities offered by collective heritage. In what appears to be a growing market, the phrase ‘history is fun’ is reconfirmed on a daily basis by the numerous active and passive consumers of cultural-historical products and services.
Due to this, the archival institutions have become aware of the necessity to trade in their supply-oriented ways of working for a more demand-driven approach. This has added on their essence to the public and their reason for being. In this process, it has become evident that all kinds of collaboration, digitalisation and an adequate PR policy are important instruments. The demand-driven approach and the increase in presentation of archive sources and knowledge targets a larger and more varied audience. At last, archive institutions are focusing on the customer, for whom exciting, new products are being developed.
While striving to reach a broader audience, the ministry of education, culture and science ('Ministerie van OCW') has taken charge of the fusion of state archives in the main provincial cities with local municipal archives, creating so-called Regional Historic Centers ('Regionale Historische Centra'; RHC). The HCL is such a RHC.
With our orientation on public demand, rich collections, expert competences and educational programming as a starting point, the HCL strives to be the main information and knowledge center for the history of Limburg. Moreover, we want to be an interesting partner for heritage institutions throughout the Netherlands and in the neighbouring regions of Belgium and Germany. The Ministry and Municipalities of Heerlen and Maastricht consider the HCL as their archive managing institution (in relation to the Archives Act), and come to us for advise on archive matter and heritage policies.
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