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



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.
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Amsterdam Light Festival: Todd van Hulzen creates “Temporal Tower”

TemporalTower2_ToddvanHulzen_copyrightA lot has happened in the last few months, and we’ve been missing the chance to update. One of the most significant things is the fact that Todd van Hulzen was selected, with Studio Louter, to produce their concept for the Amsterdam Light Festival. This is a new annual festival of light art in the capital and we’ve come up with a plan that was compelling enough that it came out on top of the jury’s selection list. It’s called Temporal Tower, and it’s both and homage to one of the vanished clock-towers of the Amsterdam architect Hendrik de Keyser, and also an exploration of the place of monuments in the public space. And of course it’s supposed to be a delight for the eye in the cold winter months.

While we work out the budget and negotiate with the city about its placement, we are fine-tuning our design for the tower. We are particularly working with a lighting technician and a scaffolding builder who are going to be those chiefly responsible for the construction and the impact.

Go to the website of the Amsterdam Light Festival for more information.

For the Holidays: drawings for Vondel’s Gysbrecht van Aemstel


This gallery contains 46 photos.

It’s an old Amsterdam tradition that has fallen somewhat in disuse: staging a performance of Joost van den Vondel’s drama, Gysbrecht van Æmstel on New Years Day. In 2008 Todd van Hulzen created a series of scene sketches and story-boards for … 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.

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 ribbon and did the honors of inaugurating some of the multimedia and games, and is rumored to have said, “I’ve never seen anything so great!”

“Living from the Land” gives an overview of life in the area of Langedijk. Now it’s own municipality, Langedijk was once a string of villages along a levee bordering a great “Island Realm” among the polders of North Holland. The center of the community was the communitarian produce auction, the Broeker Veiling. Built on poles over the water, this collection of Art-Nouveau and utilitarian buildings is the only remaining “sail-through” auction house in the world. It also ranks as the oldest vegetable auction.

Life in Broek op Langedijk centered around the planting and harvest cycle, around cabbages and potatoes, supply and demand. In Leven van het Land we display museum objects and tools from the past, tell stories about adjusting to modernity, test visitors knowledge of agrarian life and paint a picture of sustainable agriculture today.

The exhibit was designed by Todd van Hulzen Design and the multimedia was created by our steady partner Studio Louter. With Studio Louter and the museum curators we came up with the treatment of the collection, the core educational concepts, and the graphic program. And obviously, we created the “decor”.

The decor of the exhibition consists of themed clusters, or “islands”, each with 4 repeating facets of life and agriculture in Langedijk. Each cluster has at least one dynamic element. With the theme “Growing” the dynamic element is 6 pop-up cabbages, modeled after pop-up books, that emerge and unfold from the central unit. With the theme “Harvesting” the dynamic element is a talking potato created with a convex projection surface and a miniature beamer. With the theme “Village Life” we designed a kind of fashion catwalk where wooden cut-outs printed with figures in traditional costume emerge from the central unit on a wheel turned by a crank. Other figures on the central unit turn on a motorized disk among cut-out buildings. For the theme “Consumption” we filled large canning jars with flexible lenses and various objects, backlit by a battery of jar-lamps. Walking past them creates the impression of objects in fluid, suspended but constantly moving.

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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

I. Civilian Costume from the Known World, 1784

Image Archive
Title: Costumes civils actuels des tous les peuples connus
Author: Jacques Grasset de Saint Saveur
Subject:Ethnographic drawings
Year: 1784
Source: Scans

Todd van Hulzen shares his scans and files from historic archives on the subjects of architecture and the arts

These scanned images of from an 18th century French book on world costumes never cease to make you laugh. In spite of being very nicely drawn, they still can’t live down their basic naivety. And this is what’s interesting. Today we are so familiar visually with other cultures that even our most clumsy racial stereotypes still seem positively enlightened when compared to what we knew of other peoples in the 18th century. However, if you look closely at the European examples, you see that within a much smaller radius there was far more diversity than there is today. Compare the costumes of Catalonia with those of Corsica, for instance, or Brittany with Flanders. The frontier of the strange was so much closer to home.

You also see the trouble the artist had in rendering costumes from written descriptions of voyagers. In the case of the Japanese gentleman, you see aspects of the kimono as you would imagine them from a French description “patterned silk robe” without the signs that actually make it recognizable as a kimono. The same is true of the Japanese woman’s hair.

This collection of drawings is a strange mirror of the development of the concept of racism, from a time when we couldn’t help but be ignorant and fanciful about other peoples, in a time that European “superiority” was more a belief in virtues of enlightenment or Christendom than of the de facto power and privilege that Westerners enjoy today.

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Installation opens for the exhibit “Gold” at the Museum Catherijne Convent in Utrecht.


This gallery contains 21 photos.

The third unveiling this year is “Goud” (or Gold) at the Catherijne Convent in Utrecht. The Catherijne Convent is the museum of eccliastical heritage in the Netherlands, and by extension also a podium for the ritualistic and medieval. It is known for … Continue reading

Master the Universe: particle and quantum physics in Utrecht


This gallery contains 36 photos.

Finally, Master the Universe!” at the University Science Museum of Utrecht unveils a radical new exhibit in a state-of-the-art decor. After Months and months of hard work and a brow-mopping production, Todd van Hulzen and the Museumstudio (now StudioLouter) are proud to … Continue reading