The Embassy of Inclusive Society in the Van Abbemuseum
For the very first time, the Embassy of Inclusive Society is hosted by Van Abbemuseum during Dutch Design Week 2022 (DDW), it adds a special chapter to the collection presentation Delinking and Relinking (Dwarsverbanden in Dutch).
The Embassy of Inclusive Society aims to shift from talking about inclusivity to practising it. As such, the spatial considerations of the exhibition become equally important to the content shared during DDW. The Embassy at the museum sets to offer the public better spatial conditions to be able to reflect and un(learn) notions around inclusivity – while recognising one can always improve.
‘I’m very happy that the Embassy of Inclusive Society has chosen to base themselves in our museum. Public museums should be places where inclusion and social justice are discussed and consensus for change is built. The Embassy is a great structure through which we can come together in Eindhoven and push against illiberal pressures. I hope we can continue to work together in the future.’
Mutual ambition of a long-term collaboration
From a collaboration that emerged from shared ideas around inclusivity, it grew into an extended exercise of hosting and being a guest. The Embassy and Van Abbemuseum connect many parties who may work in parallel but share similar goals and visions. As such, a network of relationships and dependencies is slowly weaved. This year’s exhibition and the programme are seen as an experiment, with mutual ambition to go beyond a one-time effort and work together towards long-term engagement.
Building on existing knowledge and results
In the process of designing the exhibition, design decisions have been made building on Museum Open U guidelines. The Embassy team was able to build on the knowledge developed around the collection Delinking and Relinking.
The exhibition designers Setareh Noorani and Jelmer Teunissen worked with the challenging fact that the Van Abbemuseum building has a labyrinthine quality, with many layers and interlinked spaces. They turned it into a design opportunity. In synergy with the graphic design by studio The Anderen, the walls, floors, pillars, and staircases, become playful navigation surfaces that take the visitor along the space, programme, and ideas developed by the Embassy over the past months in co-creation with a diverse group of people. Approaching inclusivity as a practice includes conscious choices of materials and production processes. Therefore, the design team chose to work with discarded or borrowed materials as a design principle and intervened with them as little as possible.