On view

Talking Objects

Things that Matter

Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam (NL)

Located in the vast central hall of the Tropenmuseum ‘Things That Matter’ is a permanent exhibition about important things and the importance of things; objects of great personal significance that are, at the same time, closely linked to contemporary social issues such as migration and ancestry. Objects from the museum’s collection are displayed according to ten questions. For each question someone – from the Netherlands or far beyond – shares his or her personal story. For example, Jörgen Raymann discusses the different religions within his family and activist Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner expresses her concerns about rising sea levels and how it will affect her culture.

Amsterdam (NL)
900 m2
Concept, Spatial design, Graphic design, Art direction
Wendy Snoek (lead), Herman Kossmann, Robin Schijfs, Matt Vermeulen
Light design
Kloosterboer Decor, VHS b.v., Com Creative
Portrait photography
David Vroom
Studio Louter, YiPP
Architecture of the Central Hall

The central hall needed to remain accessible for other activities such as openings and events. There was also the ambition to restore the original architecture of the 19th century building. As such, our design leaves the large central space open and removes all the panels in front of the windows to bring daylight back into the hall. The monumental bisj poles from Papua New Guinea can only be shown here in the central hall due to their large size (some are up to five meters long). We mounted them at an elevated position on the columns at the base of the large arches where they now give the hall a magical feel.

Different worlds

Under the existing arcades on both sides of the hall, we have designed different sized installations housed inside freestanding boxes. When you enter inside each box, it feels like a different world, each with a different atmosphere, setting, and collection, and a new encounter with a person and his or her story. On the outside are illuminated oversized photographs of different Dutch people; you can listen to their stories about the same subject.

What do you believe in?

For many people the interpretation of their faith is a personal matter. They decide themselves which religions they want to ‘borrow’ elements from. In search of profoundness, connection, and inspiration, more and more people combine elements from different spiritual traditions. As such rituals are more important than dogmas. Here Jörgen Raymann talks about different religions within his family.

When is culture yours?

Here you will find many examples of cultural appropriation. It’s about borrowing elements from another culture such as symbols, clothing, hairstyles, dance, music or language for your own purposes or profit. Give your opinion about instances of cultural appropriation that have sparked debate.

How do you create new life?

Doctors and specialists are increasingly skilled at solving fertility issues. Yet not everyone who wishes to have children succeeds. That is why there are rituals, customs, and objects all over the world to help create new life.