Het Groote Museum

Het Groote Museum

Concepteur
Merk X
Lieu
Plantage Middenlaan 41, Amsterdam, Netherlands | View Map
Année du projet
2022
Catégorie
Musées
Histoires par
Merk X

Kossmanndejong
Filip Dujardin

Het Groote Museum inside Artis Zoo

Merk X en tant que Concepteurs.

The start of the design process surrounding the restoration and renovation of Het Groote Museum (Johannes van Maurik, 1848-1854) began in 2012 and is characterized by two main, complementary approaches: restoration and updating. On the one hand, the design provides for a large-scale cleaning operation. In and around the national monument - one of the first natural history museums in Europe that is part of the Amsterdam zoo Artis - all kinds of alterations have been made over the course of a century and a half that have significantly affected the integrity of the building.

photo_credit Filip Dujardin
Filip Dujardin

Through the demolition of outbuildings, reconstruction and annexation, The Groote Museum now stands free again on Plantage Middenlaan, as a mediator between the hectic urban environment and the startling diversity of nature in the (animal) park. This function is reinforced by the public square that landscape architect Michael van Gessel realized on the garden side. The typology of an orangery - transparent, inviting and stimulating to wonder - was already dominant in Van Maurik's design for the combination of reception rooms (first floor) and museum spaces (first floor) for members and guests of the Artis Society.

photo_credit Filip Dujardin
Filip Dujardin

In the current design, the innovative constructive and spatial qualities - such as the unique, but once seriously damaged double staircase in the rotunda - have been restored and placed within a 21st-century context. Other interventions that were necessary in connection with the expected flow of visitors to The Groote Museum have also often been fitted in almost imperceptibly. For example, for the structural strengthening of the exhibition halls and their galleries. Although numerous such innovations have been made with a view to safety, lighting, climate control, circulation, etc., they are hardly noticeable. This applies, for example, to the authentic showcases in which the old glass has been invisibly reinforced. Because the handrails of the stairs and balustrades in the entire building turned out to be too low for the current average body height, a subtle doubling was chosen everywhere with a new handrail, cantilevering above the original.

photo_credit Filip Dujardin
Filip Dujardin

Where new functions were introduced, their materialization and finish made them immediately recognizable. On the museum floor, a grandstand and a staircase were fitted in: the first to facilitate public meetings 'in the hall' and, at the same time, to hide technical facilities; the other to improve the walking route. Both elements also provide escape routes in the event of an emergency.

photo_credit Filip Dujardin
Filip Dujardin

The most important new addition concerns the construction of a basement: a radical project in which the floor of the rotunda on the first floor was placed on a steel table during the work. This made it possible to create a new opening, both for museum visitors and for the various users of the two rentable reception rooms. In the basement they will find the reception, lockers, information services, toilets and a checkroom. All of these functions could not possibly be realized via the central entrance in the rotunda. The basement also houses facilities for the organization. With the richly decorated terrazzo floor and the tree-fruit lamp that visually connects the entrance area with the first floor, the design adds contemporary interpretations of nature motifs to the 19th-century framework.

photo_credit Filip Dujardin
Filip Dujardin

Thorough restoration and respectful reinterpretation go hand in hand with a contemporary design perspective on the experience and operation of The Groote Museum. Merk X tackled large structural tasks, but also details such as the adaptation of the historic chandeliers in the reception rooms, or the completion of the missing small lion heads that were installed as vignettes in the bars of the monumental staircase. Every detail, old or completely new, has been given its place in the spectacular composition of the new Groote Museum. After a long period of neglect (or worse), the building has regained the transparency that architect Van Maurik linked with two key concepts back then: 'air and cheerfulness.'

Kossmanndejong and ARTIS present the Groote Museum

Kossmanndejong en tant que Exhibit design.

For five years, Kossmanndejong and ARTIS worked on Amsterdam’s newest museum, which Queen Maxima opened this morning. When you enter the Groote Museum, you embark on a personal expedition revolving around the question of how you are part of nature. As you and your body move through the museum, you continuously compare yourself to plants, animals and microbes. Through these comparisons, you discover that you are much more connected to the world around you than you may have thought.   
What makes you who you are? How do you differ from a salamander? Do your shoes say something about how connected you are to the earth? This museum is for anyone who is open to question themselves and their environment.

photo_credit Maarten van der Wal
Maarten van der Wal

A different kind of museum
When you enter at the top of the building’s monumental butterfly staircase, an Art+Com installation shifts your perspective. On a screen, you see yourself in the space. Suddenly, the room’s ceiling flies off and animals peer inside, eyeing you from above. Are you still that big as a person?
 
We purposely do not give visitors any traditional didactic tools that tell them what to think or do. They can decide for themselves what they want to explore. The museum provides insights but draws no conclusions. This may throw visitors off-kilter. Soundscapes, such as a deafening downpour, may disturb visitors even more. And then there is the scent tunnel. Here, it is not about what you smell but how the smells affect you. They may unlock surprising associations, memories and emotions. The Groote Museum heightens the senses to emphasise how you experience nature with your whole body.

photo_credit Maarten van der Wal
Maarten van der Wal

A contrarian visual language
The building was specially created in 1855 to study and organise nature according to the prevailing taxonomic principles at the time. This building with its 170-metre-long showcases is actually the only real collection piece and, therefore, still plays a leading role in the story. But in this story, our relationship with nature has radically changed – it’s no longer us and nature, but us as part of nature. That is why the museum’s new visual language is different. The story no longer sits neatly in the showcases, arranged according to biological classifications. The showcases’ glass doors open and the animals step outside. The barriers between “man” and “nature” begin to recede.
We left the museum’s central axis open, from one end of the East Hall to the other end of the West Hall. There is a new workshop in the East Wing, an open space for everyone where something happens every day. In this way, the boundaries between collection and visitor blur, and the boundaries between nature and people fade and become one.

photo_credit Maarten van der Wal
Maarten van der Wal

Observing, associating and poetry 
Nowadays people are used to thinking in specialisms and what falls outside quickly becomes out of sight. For example, chimpanzees’ and humans’ hearts are nearly identical, but hardly anyone studies them together. Why do we still approach certain subjects from a purely human perspective? Aren’t plants more evolutionarily successful than we are?
Alexander von Humboldt’s ideas inspired the content team. He was one of the last generalists, studying biology, geology, philosophy and science as a whole. Observing and freely associating were essential to his practice, as was describing his findings in a poetic way. Because why would you separate art and science? The design communicates poetically through free associations. One display compares a human’s lungs with a tree’s canopy. Another compares a plant’s roots with the ground beneath your feet. The ground beneath your feet represents your ecological footprint. It is with those feet that you walk on beaten paths and develop ingrained habits. Those habits need to change to keep our planet liveable. 

'The most dangerous worldviews are the worldviews of those
who have never viewed the world.'
Alexander von Humboldt

photo_credit Maarten van der Wal
Maarten van der Wal

Everything is connected
We organised the exhibition into twelve zones, each based on a specific body part. We link the body parts to their respective themes in an associative way. To support these associative connections, the team created a new collection. While each theme aims to tell something about you in relation to the world around you, they all materialise in their own way. A work of art, an interactive display or animation represent some themes, whereas others make use of the existing showcases in an inventive way. Three examples:
Flow of life
Starting from the heart, this theme is all about rhythms and currents. There is a biological collection, including the hearts of people and animals and a cross-section of a tree – the flow has become still here. In a film, you see rhythms and currents on earth, including those of rivers, clouds, human and animal flows, and day and night. You can also synchronise your heartbeat with the plane tree in front of the museum through an art installation. 

photo_credit Maarten van der Wal
Maarten van der Wal

Growing a thick skin 
The skin connects the outer world with the inner world. It can let things through and protect you. You see the skins of plants and animals side by side. Visitors can put on different coats – are you cuddly or prickly today? Underexposed or undervalued species, such as stinging nettles, play a leading role here.

photo_credit Maarten van der Wal
Maarten van der Wal

The space you take up 
Witness an imprint of the oldest preserved human footprint on Earth. Our feet have taken us far, but our paths and footprints also have an impact on the world. Enter your address and find out that we need 4.8 Earths to support our lifestyle. Discover how deep cabbage roots grow or how you can bring about behavioural change. 

The secret of Amsterdam
Before this project started in 2016, the Groote Museum stood empty for about 75 years. The showcases remained empty without a collection to fill them. The building felt like a time capsule, one of Amsterdam’s best-kept secrets. When the Groote Museum opened in 1855, thousands of objects filled its 170 metres of showcases: from shells to skulls and specimens to skeletons. People wearing top hats looked at a version of “nature” systematically arranged behind glass. The distance between themselves and nature could not have been greater. Even now, the museum should give visitors the feeling that they are “the first” to discover this secret of Amsterdam. The design process was a balancing act to create a modern, dynamic exhibition that at the same time enhances the original building’s expressiveness.

photo_credit Maarten van der Wal
Maarten van der Wal

A special creation
The Groote Museum developed in a unique way. A small project team including Haig Balian, Peter den Dekker, Eveline Hensel, Harrie Knol and Michel de Vaan (Kossmanndejong) worked together intensively for five years. From day one, they integrated content with design. Their process resembled a ping-pong match – a design change would inspire a content change and vice versa. This process involved starting over a lot, but each time from a stronger vision. When the project team finished the design, talented filmmakers, researchers, preparers builders, programmers and many more brought the drawn world to life. Now it is time for the museum to become a thriving ecosystem where people gather daily to explore their place in this world.

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