MuZEEum Maritime Museum

The MuZEEum (Maritime Museum Zeeland) in port city Vlissingen, the Netherlands, has been completely renewed. The perfect time for YIPP to sail in and deliver a series of thought-provoking interactives.

The Netherlands was historically a colonial powerhouse in which its ports and harbour cities played a pivotal role. Vlissingen, birthplace of (in)famous Dutch admiral Michiel de Ruyter, was no exception.

Housed in a monumental building close to the harbour, MuZEEum aims to educate both young and mature visitors about the golden and darker sides of its past.

Matching space to experience
The MuZEEum’s interior has been entirely reimagined to reflect the collection and activities. Some rooms feature ceilings as high as a ship’s mast, while others give an almost claustrophobic sense of being in the belly of a ship.

Always wanted to commandeer a VOC ship? In the playful navigation game you’ll find yourself at the helm staring into the blue ocean behind an actual ship’s wheel! A trio of screens immerse you as you attempt to navigate your crew out of the harbour.

Through a rich permanent collection of archeological objects and artworks, hands-on games, projections, and info stations, the museum focuses both on the Netherlands’ successful maritime history and the deeply destructive slave trade that passed through it’s ports.

Learning through different lenses
To understand the complexities of Dutch maritime history, the museum chose different lenses through which to view it. From playful to respectful and deeply contemplative.

How does contemporary Dutch society deal with and commemorate its colonial past? Looking through the lens of “memory”, animated characters discuss real dilemmas on screen. Do you agree or disagree with their plight? Vistors cast their vote by standing on either side of a screen.

Wealth or wicked?

“Economics” is a second lens and looks at the triangular trade. The Netherlands’ incredible wealth in the 16th and 17th century was largely funded by trading enslaved people and the goods those people produced. Illustrations help visitors explore these multiple levels of exploitation as they take visitors on the journey of a ship, which travels from the Netherlands through to Western Africa, the Caribbean and back.

Another lens is “Logistics/Design” and demonstrates how slave ships were designed. Accompanying a model of a slave ship, interactives take visitors through the incredibly inhumane living conditions.

A visit to MuZEEum is enriching on all fronts and will leave both kids and adults with a better sense of the complexities surrounding the Dutch maritime history.

Want to know more about this project or have a similar project in mind that we can help you with? Get in touch with Wouter Verbiest (wouter.verbiest@yipp.nl).

Photography by Mike Bink