1948 Atelier Vos Nic en Vera Tummers

"Nic. and Vera did it together"

1948 Atelier Charles Vos Middelbare Kunstnijverheidsschool Maastricht, links Vera en rechts Nic.

SCHUNCK is expanding the museum with an Art Depot and Atrium. The patio canopy will feature the letters 'Les extrêmes se touchent' - a tribute to Nic. Tummers and Vera van Hasselt.  

Nic. Tummers was a visual artist and architecture critic, a teacher of social building history and a passionate politician. He championed the phenomenon of 'socio-space', in which art and architecture serve a social interest. From his socialist conviction, he attached great value to public participation and knowledge transfer and opted for genuine social activism. From the outset, he focused his engagement on Heerlen; he advocated for the cultural heritage of the mining landscape. In the mid-1990s, he championed the preservation of the Glaspaleis. Vera was also trained as a sculptor; she met Nic. at the academy in Maastricht, she taught enthusiasts attending the School for Vrije Uren, and in 2002 she received the Anne van Dijck Prize during International Women's Day in Heerlen for her exemplary work in combining work and family. Nic. Tummers (1928-2020) and Vera van Hasselt (1924-2014) lived their entire working lives in Heerlen.

SCHUNCK Nic tummers - 1955WeltenFeest

1955 Feest in de kelder van het huis te Welten, Nic. en Vera in het midden.

Sharp observation

In the early 1950s, Nic married Vera. The couple were not inferior to each other on an artistic level. Now, in 2023, the couple will be honoured with the words "Les extrêmes se touchent" on the extension of the Glaspaleis. With this statement, father Van Hasselt typified Nic and Vera's relationship. "Vera's father was a general practitioner, with a sharp eye and quick diagnosis. With this old French saying, he expressed that Nic. and Vera were two very different characters. Both had an analytical perception, both were very passionate when it came to art, but one was more emphatic in the foreground than the other," says the eldest daughter of the artist couple, Kristianne Tummers. Nic. was a quick sketcher and could depict something in a few lines. Vera's process was one of scraping and modelling. In short, the statement "the extremes find each other" refers to their shared artistic drive.

SCHUNCK Nic. Tummers - 1955Welten

1955 Vera en Nic. met hun eerste kind, Kristianne. Nic draait een bosje bladeren in zijn handen.

Schelmen Tower as studio

Kristianne is a visual artist and teacher, and she manages the estate of her mother Vera. Her sister Tamira is a curator and lecturer in architectural history, she manages the estate of father Nic. Tamira likes to talk passionately about the role Nic. played in Heerlen's urban development. For example, about how he drew spans over the Roman baths as early as the 1950s. Or how he drew the old Schelmen Tower and the modernist Glaspaleis in one print as a starting point for the city's further development. "Whatever Nic. did in his (political) career, he always came back to Heerlen, and the role of art and culture in the city. He brought together numerous aspects of the city. For a time, Nic. and Vera had a studio in the Schelmen Tower, which the mayor allowed them to use for the symbolic sum of one guilder. Nic. worked there on his Stations of the Cross for St Anne's Church (Bekkerveld). Vera made her famous sculpture 'Mariken van Nieumeghen' there, which has stood on Nijmegen's Grote Markt since 1957. The new Atrium with the letters on the eaves overlooks the Schelment tower and the sculpture next to it - 'dr Kuëb va Heële' - by Vera's hand."

Wiel Arets

Nic. Tummers died in 2020 during the first corona wave. Given the circumstances, the farewell had to take place in silence. Now, three years later, it is time to honour Nic., agreed architect Wiel Arets, who signed for the design of Art Depot and Atrium. Tamira: "Wiel was one of the many students who visited Nic.'s documentation centre. Nic. founded this in 1966 under the name University of Socio-space. When the proposal came up to honour Nic. and Vera with this spell, we didn't have to think long about it. The first exhibition in the Atrium will also be dedicated to Nic's work."

Jacob's Dream

This first exhibition shows a sculpture from 1957. The first sculpture the sculptor stepped into town with. Nic. makes an interpretation of the biblical story 'Jacob's Dream': Jacob rests his head on a stone with which cities are built. Nic. proposed placing this statue nine metres high in the view of the mayor's office in the new space there that he called Stadhuisplaza, as a symbol of hope for Heerlen's future. However, the sculpture remained 1.35 metres high, and still stands at Tamira's house. An enlarged, provisional model is being worked on for the exhibition at SCHUNCK.

Asked what Nic. would think of the current Atrium and Art Depot, Tamira laughs: "Knowing him, in all his pigheadedness he would come up with another quote. For example, "The streets are our brushes, the squares our palette" by Mayakovsky. But he would also love this and be deeply moved with these letters for them together." Kristianne agrees: "Nic. and Vera did it together."

For more information on Nic. Tummers and Vera van Hasselt, visit:

University of Socio-space by Nic. Tummers


Vera at work in the Schelmen Tower