As Micropia is located in a zoo, we wanted to show real, living microbes which you can see moving and changing. There are microbiologists working there, who take care of the microbes and can explain everything. This turned out to be a huge challenge, but it is also what makes Micropia unique and timeless. Using electron microscopes you can operate yourself, spectacular animations and interactive exhibits we made the invisible visible.
Artis, Amsterdam (NL)
They’re everywhere. Every human being carries two kilos of bacteria on them. And so do you. On and in your body. That’s a good thing because you can’t do without bacteria. They are essential for us, but also for the rest of life on earth. In Micropia you step into a new world, an invisible world that is present in and around you. You need microbes to digest your food but they can also make you sick. In this world you will encounter intriguing inhabitants such as the paramecium, extremophiles, leafcutter ants, water bears, and lots of viruses.
“Together with ART+COM, we created special media installations such as the body scan. You control the interface with your body and your own microbes become the subject.”
Michel de Vaan
Chief designer – KDJ
The only light in Micropia comes from the exhibited objects. It’s an inverse laboratory: not white and sterile but dark and mysterious. All eyes are automatically on the microbes. For example, you discover how many bacteria you exchange with a French kiss. On a life-size screen you can see how many microbes ‘live’ with you. And on a collection of cultures taken from everyday objects – such as a toothbrush and a mobile phone – you can see the countless bacteria on them.
“The soundscape by Peter Flamman is never dominant, but it is an essential element connecting the story”.
Mark de Jong
Micropia was created through a cooperative process between many parties. The building, the spatial design and all media were developed in a fully integrated way. In order for this project to succeed, there was a lot that needed to be figured out on a microbiological level; there was a big risk whether this would succeed. Good commissioning proved once again to be essential here. Gaining trust, being on an adventure together to create something new, ultimately paid off in a very special project.
“At university, we learn all sorts of things about microbiology, but it’s never gotten this close to me. I never thought I’d find microbes this interesting.”
Medical student at the University of Amsterdam.
The Best in Heritage 2017
Project of Influence
DASA Award 2016
Most Innovative European Museum – winner
European Museum of the Year Award 2016
Kenneth Hudson Award – winner
German Design Award 2015
Museums+Heritage Awards 2015
International – Highly Commended
SBID International Design Award 2015
FX International Awards 2015
Interior Design – Shortlisted
Best of Year Award 2015
Interior Design – Honoree