I led my first bike excursion to the Tropenmuseum!
This museum was constructed in 1926 to demonstrate the wealth of the colonies. Indonesia was no longer a Dutch colony in 54’, and soon after the focus of the museum shifted. Even in their colonial representation, the collection was imbalanced and focused on the content that the Dutch considered mystical and exotic while ignoring the prominent Muslim population.
The exhibits now focus more on the commonalities, to be a museum of people through relatable stories that deconstruct boundaries. This takes the focus away from the ‘strangeness’ of others through universal topics, such as music, writing and celebrations. In order to counter the white perspective that had been prevalent for so long, the museum was considerate to including diverse curators and response from students and the community.
There have been challenges with community connections, as culture in the Netherlands was seen as a hobby after the global bank crisis. School groups have been an effective way to engage groups, and be accountable for diverse representation to reflect the members of those groups.
While Tropenmuseum highlights the history of the Netherlands, both historic and contemporary, OBA is looking forward, but with a similar focus of inclusion and authentic representation. The [future worlds] exhibit highlights individuals that have made a profound impact on their communities, overcoming hurdles to engage and enrich the population at large. The direct connection with the individuals is evident in the displays, through recorded videos as well as in person conversation sessions between the public and the contributors.
OBA is also responsive in regards to their local clientele, shifting collection spaces to study spaces and hosting Pizza Sessions to get feedback for new library locations. I was particularly thrilled to see the consideration given to young patrons. The children’s collection was organized thematically to facilitate intuitive browsing, and the website was recently redesigned in a way that is familiar to the digital platforms they might already engage with, such as Netflix.
Mark from OBA shared a digital walk through of the library, which launched an idea for cross pollination during our lecture discussion the next morning. Bingyan was unsure what the purpose of the digital walk though was, and during our conversation we were able to expand the use beyond a way to showcase and build investment in the project. We thought this digital walk though could be useful to create a digital pathway for those who may have cognitive processing differences, or wish to find accessibility pathways in preparation for their visits. This connects to the chapter I’m preparing to share for the 10 Faces of Innovation. Caregivers want to empathetically provide clear expectations for an experience. An effective way to do this is to anticipate the needs of the user and show, rather than tell them, about the experience. Users with mobility issues would feel more confident when they arrive at a new location if they’ve had a chance to explore the area, and those on the autism spectrum are better able to function in familiar settings, and the walk through could provide that familiarity.
We had a clear personal experience with caregiving during our visit to the Van Gogh museum, where Anne had refreshments waiting for us, and after a very brief introduction asked us to take some time to settle in before beginning the presentation. She then clearly explained what we would be doing during the session, and both she and Martin had us participate during the process, which is a key component of the caregiver. Though we were role-playing, it gave us a clear understanding of their services. Ann blindfolded part of the group, and had us describe a piece of art, which demonstrated some challenges for both the user and those designing experiences for them. Martin had us select photos from an assortment with the consideration of reaching out to people who might be potential museum patrons.
Their consideration for the user was also evident in their implementation process. They’d learned that traditional tours were not effective, and made the museum experience more participatory for attendees, as well as incorporating personal stories during visits, rather than focusing solely on Van Gogh’s life and art.