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.
Tropenmuseum Junior (TMJ)
Tropenmuseum Junior informs children about various cultures in relation to Western society and stimulates children to grow up into respectful and open minded world citizens. Convinced that true understanding comes from active involvement, TMJ wants to inspire children mentally and emotionally by using their physical, social and intellectual skills.
The museum demonstrates this commitment by establishing extraordinary exhibitions, offering immersive experiences, that are designed to make children curious and open to different cultures. We show connections between people, cultures, the present, past and future. We do this by telling stories from multiple perspectives while using worldwide collection.
“It is not only about looking at or listening to. It is about being part of.”
The exhibitions of Tropenmuseum Junior exemplify how research, museum methodology and design production techniques can be integrated into an interactive experience. We believe that genuine understanding is achieved through active involvement. We have developed seven criteria for exhibitions and programmes aimed at encouraging open-mindedness and achieving a meaningful museum experience.
Ingredients of developing a meaningful museum experience.
Life elsewhere cannot be explained in general terms. Avoid commonplaces about culture or identity. Be specific: use personal, meaningful stories which illustrate the general theme (‘pars pro toto’). Present people as individuals, rather than representatives of a culture. Pay special attention to personal interaction. A well-trained team of exhibition staff (related to the culture on exhibit) is the most interactive medium. They transmit the content in a lively way and guide and encourage children to participate.
Take children seriously. Research in depth will bring you to the essence. Exhibition ideas and concepts are based on thorough research with the source community. Integrate the theme in authentic stories about real people, real life and real objects. Present the theme in an holistic way; context provides consistency and depth. Allow children to work with authentic materials, avoid replicas or imitations wherever possible.
Present universal themes in a contemporary cultural and imaginative context. Connect past & present, there and here. Make connections to our modern life (for example fashion, street art) and relate to actual social themes.
Immerse visitors into a narrative space. Express the theme along a strong & theatrical storyline, emphasised by a design that employs theatre techniques to achieve a condensed version of reality. Audio-visual techniques and interactive media support the total experience and enable visitors to become more involved. The theatrical elements enforce the theme, audio-visual means engage the children yet not distract them so much that they become passive viewers or observers.
Breaking patterns opens paths to new experiences and new interactions. Stimulate and involve children with unexpected events to stimulate curiosity and engage them into an active learning process.
Practicing elements creates a sense of ownership: it is not about looking at, or listening to, it is about being part of. Stimulate children physical, mentally and emotionally, involve all their senses, inspire them with solo, duo and group activities that stimulate an active learning process. Offer an interdisciplinary approach, mobilize children to use their intellectual and social skills, to expand their knowledge and empathy.
Connect past and present. Show worldwide connections between people and cultures. Share knowledge, experience and ideas with experts and artists from source communities, create mutually beneficial partnerships. Connect to the world outside the museum. Facilitate the sharing of experiences by visitors with peers, classmates, family and friends.