The 16th Annual Conference of the European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH) was held in Oberhausen/Germany in October 2020 under the motto “Keep the wheels turning – Making industrial heritage fit for generational change”. The keynote speaker of the event was FEDECRAIL President Jaap Nieweg who highlighted the conference theme from the perspective of the European museum and tourist railways which, like the cultural sector as a whole, are currently facing the effects of the Paris Convention, Brexit and the COVID 19 pandemic as well as the transition to the younger generation. A key objective for the industrial and mobile heritage, according to Mr Nieweg, must be to obtain a fair place in the Green Deal, which is the European response to the Paris Convention.
One way to achieve this, he said, was to address the issue of coal by making key decisions on how to preserve its conceptual authenticity, to separate objects with high and low or no dependence on fossil fuels, to reduce CO2 where possible and to recognise coal as a real value of conceptual authenticity. A selected coal mine would have to be maintained in function as a museum to serve both as documentation for visitors and to supply the mobile heritage.
Due to the corona pandemic, the annual conference was held both in the Rhineland Regional Council’s industrial museum, the Zinkfabrik Altenberg, and online. ERIH (European Route of Industrial Heritage) is a network of the main sites of Europe’s industrial heritage.