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After life

Death Matters

Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam (NL)

‘De Dood Leeft’ shows how people around the world deal with death. Every day around 155,000 people die across the world. Everyone has to deal with death at some stage in their life. Death Matters shows how people deal with death in different cultures. The exhibition addresses various customs related to death, which say a lot about the way in which people see death and life.

Amsterdam (NL)
700 m2
Spatial design, Graphic design
Herman Kossmann (lead), Simon Christiaanse, Andreas Tscholl
Exhibition bulding
Kloosterboer Decor
Neef Hijstechniek
Theatex Holland
Lighting design
Tweebeeke Licht / Cue1
Journey along various cultures

In Death Matters visitors will move through a monumental structure in the Light Hall of the Tropenmuseum. Upon entering the exhibition the journey starts along the various stages that those who stay behind go through when someone close to them dies: saying goodbye, mourning, remembrance and – in some cases – making contact with the departed. The exhibition has several layers. The spaces are filled with objects, photographs, films and audio stories. Visitors can thus identify with the experiences of others and consider how they relate to the issue of ‘death’ themselves.

Focus and reflection

Death is an invasive and personal subject. The monumental structure within which the exhibition is presented, separates the visitor from the rest of the museum so they can quietly concentrate on the works on display. The fifteen-metre-tall structure is entirely made out of cotton, referencing the notion of transience. The spaces within the shape are also separated from each other by cotton pieces of fabric of various dimensions and hues, through which various atmospheres have been created within the display. The outer edge of the structure has been laid out as a zone of reflection where visitors can share thoughts and experiences with each other. Here works by contemporary artists which refer to various cultural traditions around death, can also be seen.