The Dutch Railway Museum has had the old train carriages and waiting room of the Dutch royal family for several years now and has struggled to find a proper way to show the rich stories behind this collection. I helped create new experiences for them. We focused our efforts on the two main collection pieces: the train carriages that were used by the royal family in the 60’s, and the royal waiting room that had been used in the first half of the 20th century.
The exhibit 'Vorstelijk Reizen' was opened on October 4, 2017 and is now part of the permanent exhibition.
The main goals of the project were to enlighten visitors about the historical relevance of these collection pieces; to educate them about what train travel was like for the royal family; and to entertain them with interesting, rich and sometimes funny anecdotes about the royal family on the train.
Because of the monumental status of the collection pieces, we were not allowed to attach anything to any part of the pieces themselves. For the sake of immersion, I also did not want to create something that would be overly ‘technical’ in its appearance or experience. Furthermore, the installations should not hold up visitors too much or it would create a bottle-neck, preventing visitors from moving on to the rest of the museum. Lastly, I needed to come up with ideas that could be realised on a strict budget, since the museum could only afford this new exhibition through a fixed amount of external funding.
I wanted to portray historical events that occurred in the trains and the waiting room as if the visitor was actually there, but without them being able to ‘interfere’ or interact with any characters or events. For the train carriages, I created an audio experience that would allow visitors to walk through the carriages, stopping for about 30-40 seconds at each compartment to listen to an event that illustrates the use of that compartment through a story.
For the waiting room, I came up with the concept of what I like to call ‘chronoscopes’: early 20th century style camera-like devices that would allow visitors to look back in time to one specific event that has occurred in the royal waiting room. We filmed a short (3 minutes long) scene in which the queen of the Netherlands shows the waiting room to the king of Denmark. The film was shot in 3D and played out on VR glasses, fixated within the viewing stands, to make it just a little bit more special.