Interactivity in Amsterdam Museums

Source: Amsterdam Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

In the summer of 2017, I revisited Amsterdam with the intent of checking out some of the top 10 museums including the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Hermitage Museum, NEMO Science Museum, the Amsterdam Museum, and the Heineken Experience. As a frequent museum and art gallery visitor, at every opportunity when I visit places near and far I spend as much time as possible in museums.

The Amsterdam Museum is housed in a former orphanage just minutes from Dam Square. The museum’s rich collection of art, household objects and archaeological discoveries gives a detailed impression of the fortunes of Amsterdammers today and in days gone by. The expansive collection of exhibitions and items that retell the compelling story of the Dutch capital, from its earliest developments, through the surge of growth in the Golden Age and up to the present. Amsterdam Museum is also big on experience as a means of learning, and it firmly believes that both big and little experiences matter. A standing exhibition,  Amsterdam DNA, not only retells the history of the place, but represents the spirit and feelings of its people too, using interactive displays and multimedia exhibits that bring stories of people and the city to life. The Amsterdam DNA tour is multi-lingual being available in Dutch, English, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian. This interactivity is a way for the museum to engage with visitors by using interactive screens to determine a visitor’s value with respect to entrepreneurship, free thinking, citizenship, and creativity while going through seven periods of history.

Source: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Van Gogh Museum is a favourite Amsterdam attraction for all ages. The museum allows visitors to get up close and personal with the dotted-and-dashed brush strokes of Vincent Van Gogh. The museum contains the largest collection of Van Gogh paintings and artifacts in the world (more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 700 of his letters), and also houses works by other 19th-century artists — including Cézanne, Gauguin, Monet, Seurat, Sisley and Toulouse-Lautrec — in its permanent collection. It was originally opened on Museumplein in 1973 and has been expanded and modernized over the years, ensuring that it is a truly cutting-edge exhibition and visitor space. In addition to audio-guides, the museum has added an interactive screen that enables visitors to discover what is hidden under the paint nine iconic works by the swipe of the finger. This interactivity has been transfered to the Touch Van Gogh app which is available in Apple App Store (iOS 6 or higher) or Google Play Store. The nine paintings available for discovery are: Field with Irises near Arles; The Bedroom; The Cottage; Daubigny’s garden; Self-portrait as a painter; Quinces, Lemons, Pears and Grapes; Seascape near Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer; View from Theo’s Apartment; and, Garden of the Asylum. With both the in-museum display and touch app visitors can discover information that is hidden in and beneath the paint. This use of technology (using multi-touch functions) to increase interactivity with visitors (since no photography is permitted) draws visitors of all demographics to learn more about the works of Van Gogh while preserving the originals for decades and centuries to come.

Source: Touch Van Gogh and Be Touched – How New Media Are Transforming the Way We Present Complex Research

Source: NEMO Science Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The NEMO Science Museum has its origins in 1923, and is housed in a building designed by Renzo Piano since 1997. The museum is situated in an unmistakable, sloping green building, set amidst Amsterdam’s Eastern Docklands. It contains five floors of hands-on science exhibitions and is the largest science centre in the Netherlands. Being a science museum ensures that there is plenty of interactivity with visitors from the hands-on chemistry laboratory experiments to the fourth floor’s Humania exhibit. Part of the Humania exhibition features information, tests, experiments and brainteasers to help visitors understand what’s going on inside their head through: Journey through the Mind. The Emotion Grabber game uses facial expressions that are analysed and converted into a computer game, thanks to software developed by the University of Amsterdam. This software has been used to create a special version of the classic video game Pong, in which the players move their paddle by changing their facial expression.

These are three of the popular Amsterdam Museums that are using technology to increase interactivity with visitors be it at the museum or at home.

Works Cited:

Amsterdam Museum. Accessed: April 6, 2018.

Marthe de Vet and  Jolein van Kregten. MW2014: Museums and the Web 2014
“Touch Van Gogh and Be Touched – How New Media Are Transforming the Way We Present Complex Research” Accessed: April 6, 2018.

NEMO Science Museum. Accessed: April 2018.

Van Gogh Museum. Accessed: April 6, 2018.


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