Ingredients of the museum experience: 7 starting points
Tropenmuseum Junior developed seven starting points aimed at encouraging open-mindedness and achieving a meaningful museum experience.
Convinced that true understanding comes from active involvement, Tropenmuseum Junior wants to stimulate children mentally and emotionally and inspire them to use their physical, social and intellectual skills and involve all their senses.
The museum demonstrates this commitment by establishing extraordinary exhibitions, offering immersive experiences, that are designed to make children curious and open to different cultures, to inform them about non‐Western cultures in relation to Western society, help them to grow up into tolerant, respectful world citizens.
The exhibitions of Tropenmuseum Junior exemplify how research, museum methodology and design production techniques can be integrated into an interactive experience.
Dealing with the challenges of a diverse society, Tropenmuseum Junior poses the following questions: “How do we define culture and cultural identity in a world of diversity and migration, and how can we match a complex and abstract subject such as ‘cultural identity’ to a child’s perception?” Working on answering these questions form the main focus in reaching the museum’s main goal: to offer children the experience that culture and identity are by no means static, that transformation is all around us.
Avoid commonplace ideas about culture or identity, be specific and use meaningful and personal stories which illustrate the general theme (‘pars pro toto’), pay special attention to personal interaction. A well-trained team of exhibition staff is the most interactive medium: they transmit the content in a lively way and they guide and encourage children to participate.
Present the theme in a holistic way and in an imaginative context to offer consistency and depth. Present the theme as a natural part of daily life, and integrate the theme in real stories about real life and real people.
Link (in)tangible heritage and collection to a theme and relate hands-on collection to everyday life and contemporary culture. Connect past and present.
Illustrate the theme with strong storylines, a theatrical setting and immersive set design. The theatrical elements should condense reality and enforce the theme, audiovisual means should engage the children yet not distract them so much that they become passive viewers/observers.
Breaking patterns opens paths to new experiences and new interactions. Stimulate and involve children with unexpected events.
Stimulate children mentally and emotionally. Inspire them into making the theme come alive with solo, duo and group activities that stimulate an active learning process. Offer an interdisciplinary approach, mobilizing children to use their physical, social and intellectual skills. Involve all their senses.
Make sure people relate to the world outside the museum, as a curator and as a visitor. Allow children to show and share their experiences to other visitors and stimulate them to connect their experiences to the world outside the museum.
Convinced that true understanding comes from active involvement, Tropenmuseum Junior wants to stimulate children mentally and emotionally and inspire them to use their physical, social and intellectual skills and involve all their senses. School groups are very welcome to visit the Moroccan experience ZieZo Marokko. We have developed specific programs to learn about the Moroccan fashion, mosaic patterns, language & script and the cuisine of aromas and flavours.
Tropenmuseum Junior works with people from different countries around the world. The well-trained exhibition staff are mainly from the culture exhibited. They are personally connected to the exhibition subject and add their valuable knowledge, expertise and personality to the programme. The design of the exhibitions and the mediation concept are based more on cultural co-creation than on a representation made by museum staff. We want to be an inclusive and multi-vocal museum. A form of affectivity already starts in the personal connections that are made while doing research and travelling in the region chosen for the exhibition.
Tropenmuseum Junior has won a number of awards for the exhibitions and publications.
- International Design and Communication Awards (IDCA), 2013
- Best Exhibition Layout, silver
- Best Programme, bronze
- Zilveren Griffel for the book 'De Slipper van Maria Bonita', 2013
- Leukste familiemuseum, 2013
- Children's Museum Award, 2012
- Zilveren Griffel for the book 'De Parel en de Draak' that accompanied the exhibition China's Qi, 2011
- Gouden Apenstaart ('best children's website by professionals'), SpinAward ('Best Gaming Concept'), Gouden Reiger, Artifex award, de Erfgoedprijs and Best Of Web Award nomination for the QiGame, that accompanied the exhibition China's Qi, 2010
- (extra) Jenny Smelik/IBBY award for the book 'De Paradijsstraat' that accompanied the exhibition Paradise & Co., 2004
- Glazen Globe for the book 'Kofi een Koningskind' that accompanied the exhibition Mysteries of the Palace, 2001
- Zilveren Griffel for the book 'Mario hartje Olimpia' that accompanied the exhibition Highland Indians, 1998
- European Museum of the Year Award of the Council of Europe, 1997
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