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Projection test for the Names memorial, the room is still empty now. Our Colonial Inheritance

24.05.2022 at 15:17 by Wendy Snoek

Growing steel structures. Growth, what is that?

05.04.2022 at 14:00 by Lucandrea Baraldi


The ideal spot for the Herron. The Voice of Urban Nature

21.03.2022 at 10:33 by Herman Kossmann


Artist Celia Smith installing here birds warm sculpture. Groote Museum

23.02.2022 at 17:02 by Michel de Vaan

Slowly towards the opening on the 8th of February! Our Land

01.02.2022 at 17:34 by Remco Swart

Together with photographer Sander van den Bosch, we are measuring and photographing all floors of the palace. Visitors will soon be walking on 'invisible' carpets, in order to experience the original atmosphere of the rooms as fully as possible. Paleis Het Loo

26.01.2022 at 12:54 by Robin Schijfs


Carefully lifting a python snake skeleton. Groote Museum

24.01.2022 at 14:13 by Michel de Vaan

After all those days at home behind a screen, it is very nice to finally do some hands-on experimenting with projections and different layers of transparent fabrics... Nature

07.12.2021 at 17:33 by Pauline Fer

Work in progress for Museum Sophiahof. In progress…

02.12.2021 at 17:28 by Remco Swart


Work in progress for a children's tour Work in Progress

25.11.2021 at 09:35 by Annika Jacobs


Barefoot in an exhibition? Together with the Stapferhaus, we are looking at what this means for the perception of the visitors... Nature

24.11.2021 at 18:23 by Robin Schijfs

With a few kickoff days (and nights) in the mountains of Switzerland, we have firmly started the draft design for the new Nature exhibition at the Stapferhaus! Nature

30.09.2021 at 11:09 by Robin Schijfs


Cleaning out tree routs before they will be lifted to the ceiling Groote Museum

25.09.2021 at 12:29 by Michel de Vaan

Milling earth elevation minus water from a special foam. Here we show how little drinking water there actually is on earth. Groote Museum

30.06.2021 at 12:04 by Michel de Vaan


Super exiting moment discovering the panels of the « 4 visions on the Anthropocene » box we made for the Vienna Biennal 2021! Work in Progress

12.05.2021 at 12:00 by Lea Chenot


A big empty space, right before installing all exhibits at WeTheCurious! Project What If

01.02.2021 at 12:19 by Ina Meininghaus


Safety vs. functionality: looking for the best headphones to use in a factory Expedition HVC

07.01.2021 at 17:39 by Roel Bolhuis


The new temporary exhibition in House of European History is 'under construction' Fake (f)or Real

07.01.2021 at 17:32 by Tsur Reshef

On view

the Invisible


Artis, Amsterdam (NL)

They’re everywhere. Every human being carries two kilos of bacteria on them. And so do you. On and in your body. That’s a good thing because you can’t do without bacteria. They are essential for us, but also for the rest of life on earth. In Micropia you step into a new world, an invisible world that is present in and around you. You need microbes to digest your food but they can also make you sick. In this world you will encounter intriguing inhabitants such as the paramecium, extremophiles, leafcutter ants, water bears, and lots of viruses.

Amsterdam (NL)
850 m2
Concept, Spatial design, Graphic design, Creative direction
Michel de Vaan (lead), Mark de Jong, Niels de Jong, Jelte van Abbema, Pauline Fer, Sietske Sips, Valentina Rafaeli, Andreas Tscholl, Wiebren Schilstra, Britte Hietkamp (intern)
Media design
Simon Corder
Film and animations
Bind en Sterk, HollandCentraal, PlusOne, Temponaut, Wim van Egmond
Photo material
Artis, Wim van Egmond, ANP, Dennis Kunkel Microscopy Inc., Shutterstock, Stephen Gschmeissner
Sound and soundscapes
Peter Flamman
Build and realisation
Bruns BV
Sprenger von der Lippe
Real and alive

As Micropia is located in a zoo, we wanted to show real, living microbes which you can see moving and changing. There are microbiologists working there, who take care of the microbes and can explain everything. This turned out to be a huge challenge, but it is also what makes Micropia unique and timeless. Using electron microscopes you can operate yourself, spectacular animations and interactive exhibits we made the invisible visible.


“We created a body scan that you control by moving your body where your own microbes are the subject.”

Michel de Vaan

Chief designer – KDJ

All eyes on microbes

The only light in Micropia comes from the exhibited objects. It’s an inverse laboratory: not white and sterile but dark and mysterious. All eyes are automatically on the microbes. For example, you discover how many bacteria you exchange with a French kiss. On a life-size screen you can see how many microbes ‘live’ with you. And on a collection of cultures taken from everyday objects – such as a toothbrush and a mobile phone – you can see the countless bacteria on them.

“The soundscape is an essential element connecting the story”.

Mark de Jong


Good commissioning

Micropia was created through a cooperative process between many parties. The building, the spatial design and all media were developed in a fully integrated way. In order for this project to succeed, there was a lot that needed to be figured out on a microbiological level; there was a big risk whether this would succeed. Good commissioning proved once again to be essential here. Gaining trust, being on an adventure together to create something new, ultimately paid off in a very special project.

“I never thought I’d find microbes this interesting.”


Medical student at the University of Amsterdam.


The Best in Heritage 2017

Project of Influence

DASA Award 2016

Most Innovative European Museum – winner

European Museum of the Year Award 2016

Kenneth Hudson Award – winner

German Design Award 2015

Special Mention

Museums+Heritage Awards 2015

International – Highly Commended

SBID International Design Award 2015


FX International Awards 2015

Interior Design – Shortlisted

Best of Year Award 2015

Interior Design – Honoree