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Longing for Mecca

Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden (NL) / Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam (NL)

For almost a quarter of the world’s population, Mecca is the place you must visit at least once in your life. The exhibition ‘Longing for Mecca: The Pilgrim’s Journey’ in the Tropenmuseum takes you on a pilgrimage (Hajj). Step by step you are initiated into the world of the Hajj. This exhibition brings together more than 300 compelling objects from important Islamic collections.

Leiden (NL) / Amsterdam (NL)
Museum Volkenkunde / Tropenmuseum
2014 / 2019
600 m2
Spatial design, Graphic design, Art direction (with The British Museum en Tropenmuseum)
Matt Vermeulen (lead), Julia Meyerrose, Sietske Sips, Elianne de Waard
Light design
Invision, Just Focus, Mudware, Tropenmuseum
Brandwacht en Meijer, TARS Visuele Presentatie
The longing

Upon entering, you meet Dutch Hajj travelers who share their personal experiences in an intimate setting through video portraits. Triggered by the ‘longing for Mecca’ you get practical tips for your preparation. An infographic shows the facts and figures of the Hajj. Photos and maps depict the journey, the different routes and the means of transportation pilgrims use to travel to the meeting point at Jeddah.

“Each space represents a phase in the journey. It evokes a completely different atmosphere through the use of light, color, collection pieces, film, sound, and interviews with Hajj travelers”.

Matt Vermeulen

Designer at KDJ

Your spiritual journey

You discover the rituals of the Hajj in a space that represents Mecca. You see a projection of a crowd of people performing the most important ritual: the Tawaf, walking seven times counterclockwise around the Kaaba (The House of Allah). The next room is dark and serene, and brings you closest to the feeling of Mecca. A respectful setting has been created using authentic textiles that were once part of the Kaaba. The last step in the pilgrimage is to collect souvenirs at the colorful bazaar.

Sustainable design

We designed the first edition of the exhibition for the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden. After that we adapted the exhibition for the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. As such, this is a good example of a sustainable, flexible form of exhibition design.


Museum Prijs Zuid-Holland 2014


SEGD Global Design Awards 2014

Exhibitions, Merit award

International Design Awards 2014


London International Creative Competition 2013