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in his

Hail the People!

Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden (NL) / Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal (NL)

In this exhibition you are able to join the top photographer Jimmy Nelson mentally on his travels. In recent years he has captured, indigenous people in the world’s remotest places. We have grouped Nelson’s photographs in such a way that they zoom in ever closer on their subjects. Landscapes, reportage, one-to-one portraits and staged group portraits are the different genres around which the exhibition has been organised.

Leiden (NL) / Berg en Dal (NL)
Museum Volkenkunde / Afrika Museum
2014 / 2015
800 m2
Concept, Spatial design, Graphic design
Matt Vermeulen (lead), Remco Swart
Light design
Beforethey.com, Jimmy Nelson Pictures BV, National Museum of Ethnology, inContext Producties, Nadine van Loon
Iris Vormgeving, Vertical Vision, Studio America, Wilcovak, Van Bijnen Audiovisueel
Different angles of approach

Upon entrance in the first room, you are surrounded by large projections of landscape photographs, immediately leaving the impression you are in one of the world’s remote corners. By way of a touch table you can choose which of Nelson’s many journeys you want to see. You can ‘browse’ through the work to find more background information. The second room combines reportage photographs with a look behind the scenes. An installation of multiple video screens is positioned in the centre of the room. You can huddle around a campfire and underneath a starry sky listen to Jimmy Nelson telling incisive stories about his adventurous journeys.

A different context

Using his own fascination, a photographer will always project his personal view onto the public. This biased view on reality raises questions. By means of an additional presentation of a selection from the historic photography collection of the Museum Volkenkunde, Nelson’s work is placed in the context of the history of traditional anthropology photography. You are stimulated to consider how images are formed and the role of the photographer and themselves.

Face to face

Following these reflections, the next room focuses in more detail on Nelson’s work. Here it’s life-size one-to-one portraits that stare you directly in the face. By opting for digital projection it is possible to show large quantities of images. We have also grouped the continuously changing configuration of portraits. All people depicted are for instance part of one people, or share another common factor, such as facial adornment, age, the colour red, fur or gender. The diversity of the world’s population clearly comes to the fore in this room. You can access further information on each individual portrait by way of an interactive screen.


What will visitors think of seeing themselves face to face? The journey continues. One of the last rooms in the museum is a photo studio, where Jimmy Nelson will capture you at certain times. So everyone could become part of the exhibition. At the same time you will get a better understanding of the artist’s technique.


Museum Volkenkunde teaser