James Drew chats to Stephen Clark about the Parliamentarium.
It has now been five years since the European Parliament’s visitor centre, the Parliamentarium, first opened its doors – and 1.5 million visitors have thus far enjoyed a visit to this completely interactive, informative and entertaining tour of the European Parliament and the EU as a whole.
A good time, then, for an update from Parliamentarium Director of Public Relations Stephen Clark, whom Together met in the facility’s café, just one day after what was a record day, with some 3,000 visitors enjoying a visit.
So, how is business and what is the future of the Parliamentarium?
“Well,” says Stephen, “we were optimistic five years ago about how many visitors we were going to get, and the Parliamentarium has exceeded our expectations. On average, we count some 350,000 visitors per year – obviously, we have to reflect the changing nature of the European Parliament over time, as well as the wider situation in the EU as a whole, and I feel we have been very successful in doing that.”
So, does that mean the Parliamentarium has to take events such as Brexit into account?
“Yes, definitely – we have displays covering the major events of the past 50 years or so, and a photo souvenir of Brexit is also included in this, because it was obviously a major landmark in European history, so it has to be commemorated.
“In addition, we ensure that the movements of the Parliament’s 751 MEPs are also charted – we record all arrivals and departures to inform our public, as well as keeping tabs on the enlargement of the European Union.
“On the whole, it is not supposed to be a ‘topical’ museum, i.e. reflecting daily events, but we do keep track of important updates to the working life of Parliament. And the success of the Parliamentarium means we are also looking to export certain aspects of the experience to locations such as Berlin – watch this space!”
And is the Parliamentarium planning anything to mark its fifth birthday?
“Yes, I am happy to announce that to celebrate our five-year anniversary, there will be a public party with music on 13 October from 17- 22h.”
What further reason would you need to go? The Parliamentarium, with only a few annual exceptions (1 January, 1 May, 1 November, 24, 25, 31 December) is open seven days a week from 9h-18h and, best of all, admission is free and always will be. Europe awaits!
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