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From now on, visitors to the capital of the Netherlands can experience the history of Amsterdam in just 45 minutes, courtesy of Kossmann.dejong.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 15-09-2011

The Amsterdam Museum (previously Amsterdam Historical Museum) has undergone a substantial makeover by event architects Kossmann.dejong.

Split up into seven historical periods, the exhibition takes visitors on a tour through Amsterdam where highlights from the museum collection take centre stage. High-tech animations projected on glass screens, interactive tools and above all a red wall form a common theme throughout the exhibition.

Design.nl talked with Mark de Jong of Kossmann.dejong and asked, how did you avoid turning 1000 years of Amsterdam history into a cliché?

"There will always be certain recognizable parts of the city's history (which is a good thing) but by making the tour exciting, using a narrative medium such as film and showing off the wonderful objects the museum has to offer, it hasn't fallen into the banalities some would expect."

Visitors to Amsterdam DNA receive a guide featuring a personal QR code which can be scanned at various points. Not only does the code activate animations in one of ten languages, but it is also part of an interactive game in which visitors pick and choose their favourite objects from a screen according to one of Amsterdam's four main virtues: entrepreneurship, creativity, citizenship and free thinking.

"There are a multitude of different nationalities who visit Amsterdam and the tour is offered in ten different languages. The texts placed around the exhibition however are only available in Dutch and English. Therefore we decided to incorporate a universally understandable imagery in pictograms," says de Jong.

The pictograms can be found on the red walls and depict anything from the domestic fires in the 1700s to the number of Jews deported from Amsterdam during the Second World War. The red wall also features windows which offer a look at the shooting gallery where historical and contemporary group portraits of important Amsterdammers are featured.

The films themselves, designed by Plus One, form an important part of the tour and set the tone of the period in just two minutes. "The WWII film has a very sensitive approach whereas more heroic sounds can be heard in the Golden Age," says the designer.
 
Developed together with Waag Soceity and Stichting DOEN and funded by the BankGiro Loterij, the Amsterdam Museum has developed a museum app. Once visitors have played the interactive DNA game, a recommendation for a personal city tour is available which leads them through the streets of Amsterdam and is themed according to their own Amsterdam DNA.

Amsterdam DNA is the first of a three-part masterplan and renovation undergone by the Amsterdam Museum in cooperation with BenthemCrouwel architects.

Photo: Thijs Wolzak

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