WELCOME TO THE BACKSTAGE

On view

DISSECT YOURSELF

Humania

NEMO Science Museum, Amsterdam (NL)

When you walk through a tunnel into Humania, you hear questions about yourself. They make you think: who or what am I? When you leave the tunnel you are standing in front of an 8.5-meter-high work of art of a skeleton doing a handstand. The exhibition titles in neon letters ‘I was’, ‘I am’ and ‘I will become’ beckon you to go and explore.

Location
Amsterdam (NL)
Client
NEMO Science Museum
Year
2019
Surface
500 m2
Status
Permanent
Role
Concept, Spatial design, Graphic design , Art-direction
Team
Niels de Jong (lead), Mark de Jong, Wendy Snoek, Robin Schijfs, Martijn Sas, Koen Fraijman, Roel Bolhuis, Taya Reshetnik
Production
Archimedes Exhibitions
Light design
HeinzLoopstra
Interactives
YiPP
AV production
Shosho
Photography
Janus van den Eijnden, Jet van Gaal, and many others.
Handstand sculpture
Florentijn Hofman
Overarching gestures

In contrast to most exhibitions in science centers, there are many connecting elements in the exhibition at Humania. The tunnel acts as a transition space where you can briefly reset from previous impressions; a photo gallery shows a great diversity of people and is like an immense patchwork above the space. Graphic lines on the floor connect forty exhibits in a dynamic arrangement. As in a magnetic field, all the parts direct you towards the centre: the visitor literally takes center stage upon entering.

Reality

We didn’t build decors or use plastic models of people or organs in our design. Rather than faking reality, we wanted to bring that reality into the exhibition. This way you don’t see models in the photographs, but real people telling you their personal stories. For example meet life-size scientists who tell you how they approach their research – that’s how science becomes personal.

You are the subject

The minimal structures of grey steel and glass place the spotlight solely on the subject:  you. With this open set-up, you view other visitors as part of the narrative and, in turn, you are also observed. In the amphitheater you can do self-tests and will literally sit on a stage. You constantly compare yourself with the other visitors and with the world around you. In this way you discover differences and similarities with others and get to know yourself better.

The science of the personal

The exhibition highlights all aspects of human life, including themes you might prefer to avoid, such as sexuality and death. You are challenged to explore these topics that inevitably belong to life, without having to push your own boundaries. Personal stories guide you through the subjects and complement the scientists’ stories.