On view

Historical Encounters

Canon of Dutch History

Holland Open Air Museum, Arnhem (NL)

Years ago, the planned National Historical Museum was commissioned to present The Canon of Dutch History, the history of the Netherlands, in fifty windows. The museum was never built, and the assignment went to the Open Air Museum and the Rijksmuseum. We won the design competition for the permanent exhibition in a new pavilion in the Open Air Museum which we created together with Redrum and IJsfontein, led by Pieter van der Heijden of XPEX.

Arnhem (NL)
Holland Open Air Museum Arnhem
1780 m2
Concept, Spatial design, Graphic design, Creative direction
Robert van der Linde (lead), Herman Kossmann, Wendy Snoek, Pauline Fer, Remco Swart
General concept and content
Project management
Joep Schellekens
Concept/design AV
Concept/design interactives
Light design
Realisation exhibition
Heijmerink Wagemakers, Vormgeversatelier i.c.w. Brandwacht & Meijer
AV hardware
Rapenburg Plaza
Showcase mounting
Building contractor
A multimedia film set

We wanted to create a stimulating and fascinating visual narrative. We came up with a multimedia film set where you can experience history. You walk through a spatial collage of historic moments. The stories are told by ordinary people like you and me. You can experience the past through the present in a compelling way.

A spatial time machine

The time travel stretches over four consecutive halls. First you are taken step by step back in time in the tunnel-shaped introduction room, starting from the end of the 20th century until well before the year zero. How did we use to make light? What did children play with? What did we use to eat? Through film projections, characters give a glimpse into their daily lives, now and in the past. You get an idea of how living conditions are constantly changing.

The story of the Netherlands in ten parts

In the high dome hall you walk through ten enormous chronological romantic-realistic set pieces. They are brought to life by film projections. Interactive games challenge you to actively search for information. For example, you can play a sailing game in the Kamper Kogschip, in which you learn to trade with other Hanseatic cities. Or open a treasure chest of collection objects by working together with fellow visitors.

“Through projections on the floor and ceiling you can feel time passing by. Together with exciting light and sound effects they connect the whole”.

Robert van der Linde

Designer at Kossmanndejong

Netherlands in panoramic flight

In the third room, a panoramic film shows how what we now know as the Netherlands has changed shape over the centuries, both geographically and geologically. Infographics and historical maps place it in a broader, international context. Graphic patterns on the floor and walls mirror those connections. The seating is designed as abstract earth layers.

Interactive wall

In Windows to the Past, the last room, visitors get to see The Canon of Dutch History as a whole. An 18-meter-wide interactive wall shows a chronological overview of all fifty windows. There is a digital treasure hunt along various Canon windows, and both young and old can compete together at the family game on one of the interactive tables. Here it becomes clear that history is more than a collection of Canon windows: it is an infinitely rich story with endless connections.


Museums+Heritage Awards 2018

International, winner

European Design Award 2018

Exhibition Design, silver