Canon of Dutch History opens in the Holland Open Air Museum

On September 22nd XPEX’s largest project ever had its grand opening: The Canon of Dutch History in the Holland Open Air Museum in Arnhem. Since 2012 XPEX has been involved with this project, for which we developed the concept, and performed both the artistic direction and content-direction.

The Canon presentation is a voyage through the history of our country, from megalithic tombs until the present day. The new presentation, which was developed in partnership with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, shows highlights and low points of Dutch history through historic people, events and subjects.


Digital media are alternated with authentic historical objects from the museums’ own collection, as well as items on loan, amongst others from the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Furthermore, the origin of the Netherlands is put into a wider perspective in terms of its population, climate and geography.

Central is The Story of the Netherlands, the new interactive presentation in the large and fully refurnished dome. Spectacular ‘movie sets’, which flow into each other, present 10 different time frames, composed of fragments of historic buildings and monuments in between which the visitor can roam freely. The 50 topics of the Canon of Dutch History have been incorporated in these 10 time frames through historic objects and audiovisual presentations. Above the decors varied skies are projected on the ceiling, turning the dome into a fascinating historical landscape. Preceding is an introduction in which the visitor meets the people who populated our country between the present and 10,000 years ago.


The spectacular dome is followed by a hall in which one sees the Netherlands in bird’s-eye view. On a panoramic screen 16 meters in width one follows the development of borders, soil and infrastructure. The presentation concludes with the largest interactive video wall of the Netherlands, in which all 50 ‘Canon windows’ are lined up.


The whole presentation is conjoined by our layered concept: the history is being served in large images and tiny details, through objects, texts, games and films, which together can be experienced as 1 integral story. Alternatively, it allows the visitor to limit oneself to a single medium, to casually browse, or to zoom in on one segment of the content. One can browse, deepen, watch or do: without the meaning and experience of the total being lost.


XPEX would like to thank the Holland Open Air Museum for the terrific cooperation, as well as the design and realization partners: Kossmanndejong, Redrum, IJsfontein, Marc Heinz, Heijmerink Wagemakers, Brandwacht en Meijer, Rapenburg Plaza, and technical project leader Joep Schellekens.


Watch the preview here
All Canon topics are explained here:

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The Netherlands