About Centre Céramique

Centre Céramique is a multi-functional building located between the Wyck and Céramique districts. It houses Maastricht City Library, various exhibition spaces, and a range of cultural heritage collections. While it is an excellent space in the city to come study and have a coffee, Centre Céramique also has a cultural role. It maintains various municipal heritage collections including ceramics collections from Sphinx, Société Ceramique and Mosa, as well as archaeological and glass collections from Limburg and Maastricht. It is also a space where exhibitions, concerts, performances and debates are organized. Centre Céramique and Maastricht Natural History Museum function as one single organisation under the governance of the Maastricht Council.

Maastricht University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) and the 2022-2023 academic year students of the Master’s in Media Studies: Digital Cultures undertook a project to develop a digital collection of twenty-two 3D objects that explore the city of Maastricht, which is what you see here on this website. The physical forms of the 3D objects you see are all held by Centre Céramique Maastricht. The objects range across time, from the earliest signs of human habitation in what would become the city of Maastricht, through the centuries, to the present. They tell a story of how life was lived in this place.

Below is a short timeline with some of the main events in Centre Céramique’s history.


The Old Location

While you might now know Nieuwenhofstraat as the location of the Maastricht University Library, it actually used to be the location of CC. At the time, it was a city library boasting over 450,000 volumes.


CC is Founded

Before CC was a library and museum, it was a location for a pottery factory (hence the name Centre Céramique). After remains of pottery production from the 6th and 7th centuries were found in the area, the municipality renovated it and CC found its new place and role in the city.

2020 – Present

Renovations and Exhibitions

To add new exhibition spaces on the third and fourth floors, CC was renovated. But a bigger renovation is scheduled to happen in 2023, when the reading and lunch cafés in The Annex are moved to the main hall. The places they leave behind will then become a museum.

Interview with the Collection Manager

Sjoerd Aarts, Collection Manager,
Centre Céramique

In order to know more about Centre Céramique, its history and this collaboration with FASoS, we talked to Sjoerd Aarts. He is the collection manager at Centre Céramique and a FASoS alumni. Read a snippet of the interview or listen to the full podcast below.

Q: How did your personal journey with Centre Céramique start? 

Sjoerd: I studied Arts and Culture and Arts and Science, but I’ve always wanted to do something in archeology. I contacted the municipal archeologist of Maastricht asking if he had an internship for me. He replied quite fast and asked to have a meeting with me here. The internship consisted of doing research with Roman graves. And, long story short, I stayed here. First I was an intern and then a volunteer. Then that’s when they finally had a job opening, and I became a collection manager. I did a lot of things on the side during the time, but when I got to know this collection and I saw what’s being held here, I knew this was what I had to do. We have to wait for this kind of job.

Q: How would you say that Centre Ceramique contributes to the city of Maastricht?

S: When I started working here, what always annoyed me is that Centre Ceramique, for most people, was a library. But we have these collections stored here in the basement that most people didn’t even know about. We made some exhibitions on photography, which annoyed me because we have so many beautiful objects, but we decided to do something with a medium that we don’t have and we don’t own. Our impact at that time was more from the library point of view than from the collections or history. What we’re doing right now, though, is making a museum. For around 20 years I’ve heard people ask ‘why doesn’t Maastricht have a museum?’ Now we finally get to tell the history of Maastricht with our collections. I think our influence on the city will probably grow more than it did before. And it’s a role that we have to take considering what we have here.

Q: What can people come to see when the museum opens?

S: While we have objects from as far back as 200,000BC, we decided to start roughly around 5,000BC. That’s when the first people started to settle here. It goes up until the Roman period, middle ages, the fortifications and the ceramic industry. We also have great coffee on the ground floor! You can never underestimate the importance of coffee in a library or a museum. It’s essential.

Sjoerd Aarts and Eric Wetzels at Centre Céramique
(Limburger, © Jean-Pierre Geusens)

Q: How did the collaboration between Centre Ceramique and FASoS start?

S: I remember that Costas and Susan contacted me about a year ago, but then Covid came along so it had to be postponed and then we could finally pick it up this year. It’s strange that we haven’t had that many collaborations between university and in our institution, with all this knowledge that’s being stored here and all the knowledge that’s being developed in your faculty. Hopefully it will happen much more in the future.

Q: What do you think is unique about this collection that we’re creating?

S: I think from a collection management point of view, we’ve always been understaffed and even a bit more harshly underfunded. We’ve always been very focused on maintenance and registration. We forgot what’s possible these days with these kinds of technologies, with bringing in young people with new insights. This 3D modelling, it’s a much easier way to put our collections out there. There’s always a problem with how to present it. People can’t touch it behind glass, but now they can look at it in full view.You can show the original extent of the object, which can have a much larger impact on the audience. Because this collection belongs to everyone, but we’re safe keeping it behind bars, basically. This is a perfect way of bringing it out to the world. 

Q: How do you think this collection can help in spreading Centre Ceramique’s messages?

S: We’re just putting our collection. The exposure of it. Also from the basic point of view, awareness. To let people know that we have these collections to begin with. And eventually, hopefully, they will find us and want to be a part of that collection, not only for research and study, but also to help us digitize and do research. We have to get out of this ivory tower, this old-fashioned curator way of working, of saying ‘I have all the knowledge and you have to consume it.’ We really want to have the people come to us and say that they’re interested and ask if they can see the collection and be part of it. I think this is a good start. A very important one. 

Listen to the full podcast interview with Sjoerd Aarts