By Rasmus Jantzen
A little over five years ago, while in Grad School, I became aware of Lord Cultural Resources through my mother. Through her job as head of the Danish Visitor Service at the European Parliament in Brussels she was a member of the task force working with Lordculture’s planning efforts for the new visitor center that the European Parliament was planning. She was very enthusiastic about her experience working with Lord Consultants and suggested that I check out their website. This inspired me to apply for the intern position in the New York office and was the first step in my career at Lord. I recently spoke with my mother to follow up on the Parlamentarium, as the new visitor center is named, which opened in October 2011. Below is some background information on the project and her impressions of the new center.
Lord Cultural Resources & Lord Culture should be particularly proud of its groundbreaking work in relation to the Parlamentarium – the European Parliaments Visitors’ Centre – in Brussels (Belgium). Lord was commissioned to develop the conceptual framework for a centre that would make the European Union and the activities of its democratic heart, the European Parliament (EP), come to life in the mind of the EU citizens and thus promote active citizenship. The final report that Lord presented to the EP Bureau in June 2006 aimed at putting the visitors in the focus. The visitor was given an active role, animated by the exhibition to ask questions and start to interact in order to realize unanimous EU values – responsibility and democracy – using key words such as play and create, answer questions, debate, explain personal views, listen to stories of other EU citizens and leave traces of their visit.
Set up in 4 movements: 1 – United in Diversity; 2 – Visiting Europe; 3 -Working for Europe; and 4 – Daily life in Europe, the visitor is equipped with an audio-guide allowing for a free choice between the 23 official EU languages guiding the way through the more than 5 000 m2 exhibition area. The exhibition includes a 360 degree copy of the EP plenary room allowing the visitor to participate virtually in the debate and votes of the MEPs. In another 360 degree setup the visitor is invited to take a seat and interact virtually with both elected members and ordinary citizens and thus get acquainted – on an individual basis and according to own interest – with the life of other EU citizens. Everywhere the visitor also finds spots presenting famous Europeans and in the centre of the exhibition the visitor can physically move around between the EU countries and cities navigating by an interactive movable counter lightening up with explanations when pushed over particular cities and areas. The visitors are finally invited to test their knowledge and give their opinion on current issues thereby delivering valuable input to the European Parliaments work. Groups of students in high school can also book a session in the role play section especially developed to give young people just under the voting age a hands-on experience in democratic decision making.
With more than 700 visitors daily since its opening on October 14, 2011 the Parlamentarium has already set its mark on the tourist map of Brussels. Don’t hesitate to spend an hour there if you have the opportunity – its great fun!