Shifting Image - In Search of Johan Maurits, Mauritshuis (The Hague)

Designed by: OPERA Amsterdam & Studio Louter
For client: Mauritshuis Floor area: 150.00 M² Year of completion: 2019
Submitted for: Exhibition of the Year

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About the Project

In 2018, the Mauritshuis, home to the best of Dutch painting of the Golden Age, became the subject of a national discussion on colonialism, slavery and heritage. The museum continued the conversation and examined the perception of the name giver of the museum, Johan Maurits van Nassau-Siegen, and his role in the 17th-century colony Dutch-Brazil with the exhibition Shifting Image - In Search of Johan Maurits. Together with the Mauritshuis, Studio Louter and OPERA Amsterdam created an exhibition concept and design that would allow visitors to discover multiple perspectives on this complex part of Dutch history. The centrepiece was a selection of artworks from the Mauritshuis collection with new object labels written by experts from in- and outside of the museum, creating a unique form of polyphony. The exhibition challenges visitors to think critically and invites them to form an image and opinion of their own.

What’s unique about it

The exploded 'Twitter-war' in 2018 when the museum removed Maurits’ bust, is transformed and brought into the museum space. It serves as a bold introduction. Quotes projected on a wall full of 3D copies of Maurits' bust depict the clash between the progressive and the conservatives about the removed statue, for instance: “Nothing must be left that reminds us of the slave-trading history. So let's keep silence on those times.” The exhibited artworks from the famous Mauritshuis collection are provided with over 40 new object labels, written by not only art historians but by various critical thinkers from different personal and professional backgrounds. This polyphony and open approach was a unique and brave undertaking for the museum. A graphic timeline provides the visitor with an overview of information about Johan Maurits’ life and work. Also, an artistic installation of the ‘Sugar Palace’ highlights the nickname of the museum, which was presumably built with profits from the sugar plantations in Brazil. Three wall-to-wall projections show images from the man’s era that tell the story of Johan Maurits’ life in a visually pleasing way. Visitors can also contribute to the in-depth research by indicating on a tablet which questions they consider most important. In this exhibition, visitors can watch, read, marvel, examine and actively contribute to this research. The visitor experiences that there is not just one story and that history is subject to time and perspective.

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© Mike Bink
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The Mauritshuis was known as the ‘Sugar Palace’ in the seventeenth century.

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© Mike Bink

The many faces of Johan Maurits.

The importance of 'Shifting Images' is explained in this video.

Location of project:
Credits:
OPERA Amsterdam

Studio Louter

Mauritshuis

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