Opening new museum
National Monument Kamp Amersfoort
The new museum of the National Monument Kamp Amersfoort (NMKA) was inaugurated on 19 April. In this prison and transit camp, around 47 thousand prisoners were held behind barbed wires for various durations of time during World War II. Their stories are still passed on by the guides. The architecture and expositions now paint a clear picture of what kind of place Kamp Amersfoort was.
By way of the redesigned area and the new museum, the design team, consisting of architect Jacques Prins (Inbo), landscape architect Cor Geluk (Juurlink [+] Geluk), Erik Bär (Tinker imagineers), together with Willemien Meershoek (director NMKA), made the history palpable: the anguish, injustice and fear.
The architecture and the use of materials convey the atmosphere of that time by fitting in various original elements. This is strengthened by a passing from light into darkness, and eventually back into the light. The labour of the various design disciplines was closely intertwined and gives meaning to this location in a way that is not often seen (yet).
Reflection forms a central design theme: reflections on history and on one's own role in current issues. This aspect manifests in the architecture of the new above-ground pavilion and in the interior, among other things.
The designed route leads from the recently acquired original gate and across the courtyard, which is surrounded by a steel slatted fence. The path then leads past a scale model of the camp, along footprints depicting the roll call and to the museum’s entrance pavilion.
In the underground museum, the people from the camp are given a face. The exhibition also explains the relation to injustice today, for example through a program that confronts visitors with uncomfortable dilemmas. Willemien Meershoek: “This program, which is called ´Goed of fout’ [‘Right or wrong’], uses virtual reality to touch upon current themes that are given a special significance in the context of the museum.”
Upon leaving the museum, visitors are offered a surprising view of the shooting range that lies opposite to the exit and of the monument The Stone Man. By passing through the museum café, visitors can reach the wooded outskirts and the shooting range and view the remains of a morgue.
Jacques Prins: “The new memorial has a reserved architecture. It will remain topical just as long as the existing building will. It is a truly integral design: the initiators, the board and staff, the exhibition designers, the landscape architect and the process supervisors, everyone had a demonstrable influence on this memorable place.”
Inbo also designed the existing pavilion that inaugurated in 2005 and is currently used as the museum café.
The museum will be accessible to the general public as soon as the COVID measures will be eased sufficiently to allow for it. (foto header: Mike Bink en teaser Ossip van Duivenbode)
More information: Jacques Prins