Het Geheugenpaleis (Palace of Memory) in the National Archives in the Hague has won the award in the category “Best International Exhibition”. We jaunted off to London on a lark to be there when the winners were announced, and were totally over the moon when we heard that in spite of the steep competition, we had actually won. I say “we”, but the award truly goes to the team that conceived of it all in the first place, and that would be the folks at the National Archives themselves. So even though I like to claim the award as the chief designer and artist, it will be proudly standing on a mantle in the Hague somewhere. Congratulations especially to Nancy Hovingh at the archives who enthusiastically ferried the project through 3 years of development and production, and a big high 5 to our favourite team at Studio Louter.
“The cardboard design solution is not just sustainable, it looks remarkable too. The cardboard carries one of the central tropes of the exhibition: a memory palace created of stacked archival boxes. By stacking hundreds of boxes in an oblique bond, patterns are created that catch the coloured light in continuously changing waves. The graphic material is all printed on layered honeycomb panels. The effect is controlled and subdued, in spite of the enormous amount of information and a variety of lighting effects. It’s all tied together by that one core element: the archival box.
Our competition in the category International Award (the award is a primarily British affair) will be: The Olympic Museum in Switzerland, The Springbok Experience in South Africa, The Gemeentemuseum in the Hague, and The Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Belgium.
The winners will be announced in May and Todd plans to be there with our colleagues at Studio Louter and Het Nationaal Archief. A good excuse to iron the tuxedo!
King Willem-Alexander opened the newly remodeled wing and the new exhibition space of the National Archives in The Hague yesterday. He came specially to our little design table to raise a glass of champagne to honor our efforts. Proost!
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.
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 →
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?
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
We are loving the light studies we’ve done for the opening exhibition at the National Archives in the Hague. Just some colored LEDs, some tiny cardboard boxes and camera are all it takes to create an enormous atmosphere. We also … Continue reading →
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.