Nat. Holocaust Museum, Amsterdam

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Nestled in the heart of Amsterdam, the National Holocaust Museum stands as an important tribute to the tragic history of Dutch Jews during World War II. Once a place of innocent childhood education, the museum now occupies the former Hervormde Kweekschool, solemnly reminding visitors of the atrocities of the past. Within these walls, over 600 Jewish children sought refuge amidst the chaos of war.

The museum underwent a significant renovation, carefully preserving the historical integrity of the Kweekschool while infusing it with a new purpose: to honour the memory of the fallen and to educate future generations. Central to this renovation was the thoughtful consideration of lighting design, aimed at enhancing the museum experience while respectfully conveying its narratives.

Respecting the existing architecture guided the lighting choices for the renovated sections of the Kweekschool. Soft, diffuse pendants and wall luminaires were strategically positioned to accentuate the spaces aesthetic qualities without overshadowing the poignant exhibits. Additional spotlights delicately illuminate entrances and architectural details, drawing visitors’ attention while maintaining a sense of reverence. The carefully selected colour temperature envelops the museum in a warm and inviting glow, providing solace amidst the weighty subject matter.
The newly constructed areas embrace a lighter, more airy ambiance. Utilizing diffuse lighting and carefully positioned direct light, these spaces were designed to evoke a sense of openness and tranquility. The main staircase leading to the second-floor exhibition featured a refreshing colour temperature, complemented by daylight streaming in through skylights, infusing the area with natural radiance.
The museum’s new wing features versatile tuneable fixtures and different layers of light, allowing the creation of various lighting scenarios within the auditorium and temporary exhibition space, adjusting to diverse event needs.

Externally, the museum facade was subtly illuminated to showcase the beautiful Brazilian brickwork of the new construction. Minimalistic lighting guides visitors towards the entrance, inviting them to discover the stories of the people who lived in the Netherlands during the time of war.

In every corner and corridor, the lighting design of the National Holocaust Museum serves as a silent yet potent ally, enriching the visitor experience while ensuring that the stories of the past remain the central focus. It strikes a delicate balance between illumination and reverence, creating a space where history can be both remembered and understood by generations to come.

Photography: Mike Bink, Max Hart Nibbrig, Thijs Wolzak