Automatic History

History with a FEBO twist, there’s an exhibition on in the lobby of the Amsterdam History Museum that lets you interact with history.

You choose an object from the “automatiek” at a cost of 1 or 2 euros and attached to each object is a description and short history of the object. The big screen on the left will show more information including images and video clips.

It’s an exhibit run by the Museum of National History, a newly created museum notable for having no collection. Normally the collection is what people come to see so if there is no collection what can the museum deliver? They’re all about the experience, and they’re experimenting with different ways of interacting and learning about the nation’s history.

The first object I chose was this anti-nuclear badge, worn in the early 80s as part of the successful movement to stop nuclear energy plants being built in the Netherlands.

At about the same period I was on the other side of the world wearing similar badges and protesting to keep the Pacific nuclear-free.

The second object I chose was a blue button, I chose it because I really had no idea what it referred to.

It refers to a teetotaller movement in the early 20th Century and the phrase “van de blauwe knop” (of the blue button) still exists in Dutch today.

It’s a very cute idea and fun to take part. You get to take away the objects you chose so you get a souvenir for your money and participation gives you a single free entry to the Museum of National History. The exhibition is on until 29 August at the Amsterdam History Museum – and it’s by the entrance on the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal.


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