De Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam

The century of Juliana, a Queen and her ideals - exhibition design

The Age of Juliana, a queen and her Ideals is a royal exhibition that takes us into the life of this beloved former queen of the Netherlands. Juliana (1909-2004) was also known as ‘the princess next to the red carpet’, because she was quirky, modern and averse to protocol. During her life, the world has changed tremendously.

In this exhibition, we guide the visitor through all crucial phases of both Queen Juliana’s personal life and the major and minor events in the world and our Dutch society. In all those decades, the queen has shown various appearances and changing character traits, which are often captured on photo and film or with oil paint on canvas. We explicitly make connections between public, politics and personal and by doing so, we celebrate Juliana as she was: a woman of her time.

The impressive interior of the church is a stunning partner for us as exhibition architects. It’s all about scale. I was thrilled to be given the chance to work in this impressive building and with the wonderful Nieuwe Kerk team once again. For setting the scenography of this exhibition, our luck is that many rituals of our Royal Family actually take place in the church. We played with that gift at several scenes (e.g., the inauguration scene in front of the gilded choir).  At other places we made the church disappear by a high abstracted palace interior wall, to emphasize the more personal objects and narratives. We used large banners to indicate the 8 decades of Juliana’s life and by doing so we give a strong visual backbone to the narrative. We paid a lot of attention to create strong visual vistas to direct the visitor through space. To keep the different layers of information clear and to make the exhibition easily digestible for all, we created throughout the exhibition large ‘tabloids’ that hold a treasure of contextual information, both in writing as images and ‘talking heads’ of witnesses and specialists.

On 13 October 2022, the exhibition was opened ceremoniously by Juliana’s daughter Princess Beatrix. I had the honor to give our former queen an introduction, together with graphic designer Julian Kleijn.

Graphic design by Studio Berry Slok

Production by Klief, Frits Ham, PPS, Watjeziet, team De Nieuwe Kerk

Photography by Mike Bink

Delivery 2022