The Poetry Museum marks Twan Janssen and Johannes Verwoerd’s first collaboration as International Silence. After a beer on a terrace and an exchange of previous work and experiences, the idea was born: to squat Museumplein and add a new – virtual – cultural destination. Two years later, Het Poëzie Museum was born. Together with Amsterdam Marketing, a campaign was launched that reached millions of people through news websites, newspapers and even the radio.
The logo references the design wars that surrounded neighbouring museums such as the Stedelijk, whose rebranding generated much critique. The space between the words ‘poëzie’ and ‘museum’ is a tongue-in-cheek take on the gap between ‘Rijks’ and ‘Museum’, which was also a first-class design debacle.
Aside from the logo, all typography in the museum is slightly spatial. Letters are part of a three-dimensional experience, complete with lighting and reflections that create a theatrical effect.
The architecture of the poems strengthens the content; some demand lightness while others are better suited to the dark. For a Little Girl by Annie MG Schmidt, for example, towers over the reader, diminishing her size. She becomes the little girl in the poem.
Pavilions or follies were created using deconstructed parts of 3D Ikea models. Together with the poems, they shape unfinished architectural sentences. Virtual wallpaper featuring cloudless skies gives each folly its own colour and atmosphere. The app also includes an overview of all of the pavilions that serves a way-finding tool. Each pavilion is in the same location. You might see other museum visitors, but they may be visiting a completely different space. It’s like a silent disco for poetry.
Weeks before the opening of the museum news sites and local papers announce the coming of the new museum. For most people the idea of a poetry museum was already a fair reason to write something about it. Like poetry a virtual museum is something that in the first place exists in our minds. A museum for the Dutch speaking citizens of Amsterdam.
The Poetry Museum has received an overwhelmingly positive response from both visitors and press. The project has been mentioned and reviewed by Volkskrant, Het Parool, NRC, NOS, Uitkrant, Museumvisie, Museumtijdschrift and Het Financieel Dagblad, among others.
Visit the museum to experience it for yourself.
The app is free and can be downloaded here:
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