Tropenmuseum Junior’s educational approach is based on seven founding principles.
Authentic personal stories, a contemporary hands-on collection and multidisciplinary activities take children on a journey of discovery through modern cultures.
The dynamic, theatre-like setting encourages children to immerse themselves totally in the encounter, so creating a meaningful learning experience.
Information is conveyed in as personal a way as possible, both in form and content. The universal is to be found in the personal and the specific. Exhibition staff with personal links to the subjects being explored inspire and guide the children with stories and activities.
The staff encourage their groups of up to fifteen children to engage personally with the exhibition, activities, subject and each other. Asking children to play an active role fosters a feeling of ownership for ‘their’ exhibition.
Our museum deals with real people, authentic objects and true stories. The people whose stories we tell really exist. The objects on display are genuine items used within the culture being featured. Many have their own, personal story. The activities we undertake are based on real-life practice and have been thoroughly researched. Thanks to this innate authenticity children feel they are being taken seriously.
The Tropenmuseum Junior exhibitions focus on contemporary themes. While some stories may unfold far away in terms of distance, they are always close in time. Contemporary narratives and a modern-day collection help children to see connections with their own lives. Excursions into the past always begin in the present. All themes are relevant to the world in which we find ourselves today.
4. Overwhelmingly immersive
For an unforgettable experience and active participation, total immersion is essential. Sensory experiences plunge visitors into another world and trigger them in ways that make them forget they’re in a museum. Their encounters take on the natural inevitability of life itself, making it feel ordinary to be someone else.
Through unexpected encounters, surprising design elements and theatrical interactions, the exhibitions aim to break with traditional patterns of expectation and offer a varied programme aimed at encouraging visitors to open up to the new things coming their way.
In a dynamic setting, children are encouraged to be active participants. For this reason, programmes are structured according to a narrative curve. Through multidisciplinary activities visitors become part of the narrative and take ownership of the space in which their interventions add or change the dynamic.
7. Social engagement
Tropenmuseum Junior challenges visitors to engage in communal experiences and to pass these on, both inside and outside the museum. After all, by sharing your experiences, you’re better able to recall them.
The museum deploys a wide range of disciplines such as theatre, music, dance, fine art and cooking. Subjects come to life because children take an active part in the exhibition. No-one can hold back because everyone is curious. It’s a case of learning by doing.
For each exhibition the museum deploys a team of people from the culture being explored, so giving it an authentic personality. Tropenmuseum Junior renders the other familiar, creating a bond between the visitor and people from the culture that’s featured in the exhibition. Visitors can ask them anything; after all, people are more interactive than any other medium!
Assessments confirm what we know from daily practice: this approach of using museum guides to explain their own culture garners a high positive rating. Tropenmuseum Junior has been awarded various prizes for its exhibitions and publications.
For each exhibition Tropenmuseum Junior develops a range of interactive programmes. Staff from the culture being featured in the exhibition act as the visitor’s guide. Different programmes have been developed for different target audiences, each having its own narrative thread and range of activities.