The Shoe Quarter is closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Shoe Quarter Waalwijk gets supervisory board

From February 2023, the supervision of the Shoe Quarter in Waalwijk will change. The current board (Harrie de Werd and Margo Strik) will resign. At the same time, a Supervisory Board will take office, consisting of four people; Geertje Pruijsers (chairman), Olaf Vugts, Ben van Heesbeen and Martijn Mathot. It is up to this Supervisory Board to appoint a director. The search for a suitable candidate can now begin. Until the appointment of the new director, Mechtild van den Hombergh will fill this position.  

According to chairman Geertje Pruijsers, the transition to a new management structure is necessary to realize the ambitions of the Shoe Quarter: "In this way we are professionalizing the management of the museum. The director to be appointed will have more responsibilities and we will closely monitor the frameworks we agree on. We are very grateful to the current directors Harrie de Werd and Margo Strik as well as the staff and volunteers for the work they have done for the construction and start-up of the new Shoe Quarter. 

The Shoe Quarter in Waalwijk opened its doors at the end of June 2022, after a long closure to the public. Olaf Vugts: 'There is a beautiful museum with a great collection and programming. But the Shoe Quarter is more than a museum; there is a new concept in a unique location. That concept rests on three pillars: the maaklabs, the Knowledge Center and the Museum. The strength of the Shoe Quarter is that it is about making, learning, meeting and suprise. And the latter has also been my main interest for many years. We look forward to seeing that flourish more in the future.'

Alderman John van den Hoven is also pleased that the focus is now on the future; "Waalwijk's ambitions are sky-high. It is good to see that the ambitions of the Shoe Quarter are too. I warmly welcome the new Supervisory Board. I have confidence that, together with all the staff and volunteers, they will put the Shoe Quarter further on the map.'

Designed by CIVIC Public Architecture, the Shoe Quater building won the award for best architecture of a public building in the Netherlands in October 2022. 

The full Board of Supervisors introduces themselves below the photo. Photo is available free of rights. 

The new Supervisory Board of the Shoe Quarter.
From left to right; Ben van Heesbeen, Martijn Mathot, Geertje Pruijsers and Olaf Vugts.

Ben van Heesbeen has management experience in both the profit and non-profit sectors. He started his career as a marketing manager at Schiphol Airport. He then held various management positions at cultural organizations, including the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Mauritshuis in The Hague. He later shifted his focus to managing complex social organizations. After working at the Humanitas association, he is now director of a library organization with 60 employees and 280 volunteers.

His motivation for this role on the Supervisory Board of the Shoe Quarter in Waalwijk: "I look forward to being able to contribute - together with my fellow Supervisory Board members, the staff, volunteers and other stakeholders - to bringing this wonderful Schoenenkwartier to even greater fruition.The Shoe Quarter is completely unique. That is because of the mix of attention for the regional heritage of the shoe and leather industry, the attention for important developments in the industry, and the fun of experiencing for yourself what it is to work with leather and shoes.

After extensive international experience at the executive level, Martijn Mathot has been managing director of Bata Netherlands since 2016. This company is part of the global Bata concern focused on consumer footwear. Based in Best in Brabant, the Netherlands, Bata Nederland has been developing and producing safety shoes since 1934. Along with a small number of other industry peers, Bata is one of the last companies still actually producing shoes in the Netherlands. For several years, Martijn Mathot has also been advising other companies and serving as a director, supervisor or advisor. Martijn Mathot's experience in the shoe industry, combined with his managerial and advisory experience, make him a good sounding board for the Managing Director of the Shoe Quarter and his fellow board members on the Supervisory Board. 

His motivation for this role on the Supervisory Board of the Schoenenkwartier in Waalwijk: 'The Shoe Quater is a beautiful museum and does justice to the rich history of the shoe industry in Waalwijk and Brabant. I am proud to be part of it.'


Geertje Pruijsers is an experienced supervisor, including in the Arts and Culture sector. For example, she was involved as a supervisor at Design Academy Eindhoven for over 8 years and is a supervisor at the Social Label Foundation in 's-Hertogenbosch. In her career in marketing/communications, she has been responsible for shoe brands such as Manfield, Dolcis, Invito, Pro-Sport and Hush Puppies. In addition to this professional experience, she has been brought up with a love of shoes. Her father spent his entire life working in the shoe industry. In addition, she is a shoe fan and has countless pairs in her own closet.

Her motivation for this role on the Supervisory Board of the Shoe Quarter in Waalwijk: 'Waalwijk benefits from the attractive Shoe Quarter. It will strengthen the appeal of Waalwijk nationally and internationally. I would like to make my contribution to that.'


Olaf Vugts has worked at the Efteling for more than 32 years, in various positions from vacation worker to Director of Imagineering. He also made a foray into Adventure Park Hellendoorn as Head of Marketing & Communications. Since August 1, 2020, he has founded his own consulting firm, Olaf Vugts Imagineering. He provides advice on imagineering, brand development, experience and storytelling. He has experience in the retail, leisure, culture and healthcare sectors.

His motivation for this role on the Supervisory Board of the Shoe Quarter in Waalwijk: 'A museum is an experience. By approaching it that way, the rich shoe culture of Waalwijk will come to life even further. The Shoe Quarter has a lot of potential to expand that even further.'