The 29th of September was the beginning of a series of different events throughout the upcoming days for the International Conference of Terra Mosana on the topic of Sustainable Digital Heritage. The very first day was dedicated to the opening ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the Interreg Euregio Meuse-Rhine project Terra Mosana, with live demonstrations by the different project partners.
Terra Mosana has been an ambitious project for the region's attractiveness for tourists and shared identity through the digital exploitation of its cultural heritage. Several cities in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine have developed digital narratives about their shared history and we were beyond excited to show the results to the public.
The event started with Vivian van Saaze from the Maastricht University and MACCH welcoming us to the beautiful townhouse of Maastricht. She was highlighting that this was the first in-person in a long time and remarked how happy she was to not look at the computer screen for once.
Gert-Jan Krabbendam, the alderman for cultural heritage in Maastricht, started his speech with "auditori salutem" or "greetings dear listeners" - in an effort to recall that the first shared language in our border region was Latin which shaped the shared cultural heritage as far back as the Roman period. Next was Marleen Kauffman, Mayor of Leopoldburg. Kauffman stated, “Even though Leopoldburg is a small town, thanks to Terra Mosana we managed to tell everyone the large story the town holds.”
Marie Gerbayhaie, advisor of the Minister for Heritage of the Walloon Region, recalled the disastrous flooding in our region in the Summer of 2021, explaining how a digital project like Terra Mosana was able to help restore the lost heritage by making it accessible to everyone. “To build bridges to the past, present and future” Marie explained. Kathrin Hissel spoke in front of the cathedral in Aachen. She recalled in her speech how the tourism industry in our region will thrive by the digitalisation of our shared cultural heritage.
Finally, Mark Vos, the Coordinator of the Interreg Euregio Meuse-Rhine programme, gave a presentation about the importance of collaborating between the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. “Even though borders may not be invincible, there might be some obstacles for the cross-border collaboration, and together we want to make those obstacles disappear”, Mark stated.
After the different guest speakers finished, Sally Wyatt Professor of Digital Cultures & Associate Dean for Research at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University, presented us with the topic: “Drawing the past together: Learning form Terra Mosana”. In her speech, she was asking the question of how exactly one may decide when a project collaboration is successful. “We have many different people from different backgrounds”, she stated and concluded that collaboration is not always easy. She ended her presentation by celebrating the success of innovative collaboration within the Terra Mosana project.
Roland Billen, Full Professor, Geomatics Unit of the University of Liege - the Lead Partner of Terra Mosana - was the last speaker of the day. He started his speech off with a video that highlighted a very important message that was fundamental for this project: “People who love between the Meuse and the Rhine share a common History". Roland took it upon himself to show us some of the many results of the Terra Mosana projects, showing how accessible the project was through workshops, Virtual Reality, Smartphone apps, etc.
This was the perfect transition into the next part of the event: A showcase of the different projects. The town hall of Maastricht was filled with professionals who were eager to demonstrate the different projects made with Terra Mosana. These demonstrator projects showed that the project itself might be close to finishing, but its effects will be visible in the region for years to come.