Wayang Kulit Belanda: shadow puppets of Dutch characters in Indonesian style.

For an installation in Het Geheugenpaleis (Palace of Memory,) currently on exhibit at the Dutch National Archives in the Hague, Todd created a series of shadow puppets based on both caricatures of Dutch “types” and on traditional Indonesian style shadow puppets made of punched leather, or Wayang Kulit.  This was in turn for the archival theme “Opgevangen in de spruitjeslucht”. This treats the subject of the repatriation, often forced, and the reception of Dutch colonials and  Dutch subjects from Indonesia after Indonesian independence.  Instead of the traditional subjects from Indonesian Wayang Kulit drawn from the Bhagavad Gita or Mahabharata, we see here much less heroic figures drawn from Dutch life and fantasy: for instance Saint Nicholas, but also a bicycling preacher, a public servant, and a housewife in traditional attire with a rather threatening cheese slicer.  In the middle we see a simple and proud “Indisch” woman who is the hero of a digital game being played in a console just in front of the display.  The puppets were installed within the cardboard boxes along the wall, and each illuminated independently with LED lamps.

Finally a National History Museum at the National Archives: a sustainable festival of the Past.



Photo Anne Reitsma

After three years of hard work, the Geheugenpaleis (Palace of Memory) has come to completion. This project represents the crowning achievement of not only our studio, but of the long term ambitions of the National Archives itself. It is grand, evocative, fascinating, touching and above all it offers deep immersion into the stuff of archives and the stuff of history. T. van Hulzen Design and Studio Louter were engaged from the early beginnings to help forge a sound program, a gripping concept and a cohesive design. We’ve conceived a Memory Palace like no other, which like Bluebeard’s castle offers mysteries behind every door, a world of history in every archival box. 11  uniquely decorated chambers, enlivened by 11 creative installations (music, documentary, video, radio-show, etc.) surround a central “courtyard” allowing for that “a la carte” feel that festivals have. Every room has a unique experience and a unique interpretation of the material, but it is all tied into the history and the utility of the Archive itself.

From a design point of view, we are particularly proud of our all-cardboard “fortress”—this for all the physical qualities that paper and card have to offer: warmth, acoustics, recyclability, and sustainability.  Never have we created so much volume with so little mass. An exhibition of 800 square meters was virtually carted in on two pallets of stacked and folded cardboard boxes. This cardboard, supplied by IHC interior builders, is recycled and emission free. And after the exhibition is retired at the end of 2014 the whole exhibit will be sent to the recycler yet again, to be chipped, separated, and reprocessed. This is a stark difference with the conventional waste created by an exhibition made of wood, plywood, plaster and paint. And with the exception of the printed information panels, all our color is created with the use of filtered LEDs; so no paint required.

Yet not only is our cardboard solution particularly sustainable, it looks remarkable too. The cardboard carries one of the central tropes of the exhibition: a memory palace created of stacked archival boxes, a kind of dream-idea of the Past, made concrete, as if you are walking through Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities or one of Borges’ fantasy libraries. By stacking hundreds of boxes in an oblique bond, we create patterns that catch the colored light in continuously changing waves. Continue reading

New NEMO project for 2014


Amsterdam Science Center NEMO has accorded us (T. van Hulzen Design and Studio Louter) their latest contract for the concept, production and design of an all new addition to the permanent display.  The subject is mathematics and geometry in all its facets.  We will touch on pure mathematics, but also on platonic solids, perspective, fractalization, and even proportion and aesthetics.  The concept is “Meetland” or “Measureland”, and our aim is to create a whole world, with streets and buildings and landscapes all of measurable surfaces, all reducible to pure mathematics.  This will be our big project for 2014 and should open at the end of the year.  Keep posted!


King Willem-Alexander to open Het Geheugenpaleis in the Hague

The folks down at the National Archive in the Hague are pretty excited about the news that our new king, Willem-Alexander, will be opening their inaugural exhibition in the Hague on Tuesday, October 15.  He will actually be opening the entire newly renovated visitors’ area, including a new study hall, information center, laboratory and workshop for school groups.  On top of this the new exhibitions hall will contain our one-of-a-kind exhibit, Het Geheugenpaleis.  And I’ll be there to give him a hand… or was it a courtsey?

Our invitations are ready!


The National Archives’ Palace of Memory approaches its high point: opening 15 October


We are beyond excited about the progress we are making down at the National Archives in The Hague. For their inaugural exhibit we are creating a kind of cardboard fortress, or palace, that houses a number of rooms filled with intriguing stories. The palace of memory works with the concept: the past is a foreign country, and treats each of eleven core stories as relais from ambassadors from the past. Each story is told by a single artist or artists’ collective. We have the story of the last hours of Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, the great 17th century statesman. We have the heartbreaking story of the road to making divorce legal in the Netherlands. There’s the story of a medieval convent, of a slave-trading scoundrel, of the founders of the E.U., of female stowaways on East India Company ships, and more.

But mostly we are just proud of the design-work and the production, and with our partners Studio Louter we are terrifically excited about the multimedia applications and the projection mapping. The lighting expertise of Tinus Holthuis brings our vision to completion.

Het Nationaal Archief: Het Geheugenpaleis
Opening general public 17 October
Prins Willem Alexanderhof 20
2595 BE Den Haag

2 X Bank Giro Lottery

Two instances this week of how relevant the national (Dutch) Bank Giro Lottery is to hard-working museum designers:  first, Museum Boerhaave in Leiden received a €600,000 grant from the lottery funds for 2013 thanks to a proposal partially sweetened with designs by Todd van Hulzen, and secondly, a kick-off for the 2014 round of grants by the National Fortification Museum in Naarden for which Todd van Hulzen will also do the preliminary designs.  In the current climate of spending cuts in the cultural sector museums have to appeal to grant givers. To do this they need to have a sound proposal, and that’s where our design work comes in.

Director Dirk van Delft holding a check from the Bankgiro Loterij.

Museum Boerhaave.  In early 2012 we teamed up with Museum Boerhaave and Studio Louter to create a grant proposal to help fund the museum’s new renovation and exhibit plans. We created a sexy, if provisional, design for the interior of the new permanent exhibit on the lower floor.  Now that the money is in, Museum Boerhaave will undergo a new round of tendering to see who will actually execute the project.  We will certainly lobby for ourselves, and we rate our chances as good. Continue reading

Mariniersmuseum: Unit in Uruzgan
(Museum of the Dutch Marinecorps)


This gallery contains 15 photos.

The semi-permanent exhibit Eenheid in Uruzgan (Unit in Uruzgan) in the Mariniersmuseum in Rotterdam was conceived as a place of reflection about the human costs of the Dutch mission in Afghanistan. Studio Louter created four compelling —occasionally dramatic— films and Todd van … Continue reading

Museum Broekerveiling phase III. Permanent exhibit Leven van het Land is a fact.


This gallery contains 49 photos.

After more than a year of hard work Museum BroekerVeiling in Broek op Langedijk finally opens the doors to its new permanent exhibit in the visitors’ center: “Leven van het Land” or “Living from the Land”. Princess Maxima cut the … Continue reading

Interactive exhibit SportLab! opens at the NEMO Science Center in the harbor of Amsterdam.


This gallery contains 21 photos.

Todd van Hulzen and StudioLouter have created another fun and fascinating exhibition, this time at NEMO Science Center in Amsterdam. It’s called “SportLab” and it’s all about the science behind sports, which is particularly interesting in this big sports year: Olympics, European … Continue reading

Museum Broekerveiling phase II. Realm of 1000 Isles opens its doors.


This gallery contains 17 photos.

A new exhibit “The Realm of 1000 Isles” is the second permanent exhibit that Todd van Hulzen Design has created for Museum Broekerveiling. This nineteenth century auction house, with its new visitors’ center, is the seat of agrarian history in the region. It … Continue reading

Queen Beatrix opens “de Westerstraat” at the National Open Air Musem

Queen Beatrix opened a new exhibit at the Open Air Museum in Arnhem this week. “The Westerstraat” is a reconstruction, or rather a ‘reassemblage’ of a group of buildings from Amsterdam’s Jordaan district, in particular the old slums in the back alleys. This is the first bit of historic Amsterdam that is represented in this park devoted to architectural and cultural history.

Todd van Hulzen Design aided Studio Louter (formerly “Museumstudio”) in creating a suitable point of view for exploring the old slums. This included creating a model of the buildings, consulting on the conceptual treatment, and designing viewing apertures and information panels. (Her Majesty obviously had some trouble from her hat.)

Now designing the permanent exhibit for the regional agrarian museum “Broekerveiling”.

The Museum Broekerveiling showcases the phenomenon of the Dutch agricultural auction, an institution originating in the 19th century as a product of cooperation by independant produce farmers in the watery regions of the Province North Holland. Centered around a historic “water-borne” auction house, where auction lots are proffered by boat and are bid on using the “Dutch auctioning” technique, the Museum Broekerveiling has expanded its capacity and is now a center for agrarian history and culture of the entire region. In its new visitors’ center, the Museum is creating a permanent exhibition, using collection items, multimedia, archive and interview film footage, and animated maquettes to give the visitor an expanded, comprehensive and fun experience.

Todd will be working on this project for the coming year, creating concepts and designs, and directing the physical completion of the exhibit.

Now designing the inaugural exhibit of the National Archives of the Netherlands.

Het Nationaal Archief (the Dutch National Archives)is the largest archival institution in the Netherlands. It oversees over 600 separate archival collections and is, in a sense, the memory of the Dutch people, from the Middel Ages, through the Republic and into the 21st century. In 2012 it will be opening its new 800 square meter exhibit space in The Hague with an inaugural exhibit 1001 Stories. This will consist of a “festival” of stories and narrators, each with a separate pavillion/theater. We travel through the world of documents into the realm of Story. Heroes, travelers, rebel lasses, ornery statesmen, divorcées, collaborators, seducers: all of these protagonists are brought to us from the diepest recesses of the archives, into the light of a shared history. Each subject will be coupled with a unique artist to translate the facts into a piece of theater, music or spectacle.

Todd will design the shell of the whole exhibit and supervise the building of separate “décors” for each theater.