The Court of Holland Brings Interactive Storytelling to Maturodam

Posted by Elizabeth Alton on Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

The Court of Holland - Madurodam

Within the Hague, the Madurodam is a miniature park that celebrates the history of the Netherlands through replicas of full-sized important landmarks at a 1:25 scale. Within the Madurodam, there are three thematic areas to explore: Water World, the City Center, and Innovation Island. There is also a playground for younger visitors. The Hague’s miniature theme park recently added a new multi-sensory experience called the Court of Holland.

The revitalization was planned in light of decreased attendance. The park closed for major renovations and recently reopened in 2012. Madurodam has been a staple of Dutch tourism since the mid-20th century. The park is named for a Second World War resistance fighter, who tragically died at Dachau prison camp just months before the war ended. In memoriam, his parents wanted to create something that was in his honor – but where people would have fun, while experiencing quintessential Dutch stories. Since it opened in 1952, Madurodam has largely featured static replicas of major attractions.

Meeting table - The Court of Holland

The renovations are ongoing; the curators and board knew that they needed to take an innovative approach that used technology and immersion to capture guests’ attention. The first phase focused on adding interactive screens to each of the areas, to help guests understand the stories of the buildings and attractions around them. Attendance exploded with the reimagining of the park, and the team decided to add some original immersion attractions that would help really capture audiences’ attention. A video is also played in a replica of Maduro’s birthplace, so that people understand the significance of the park.

The latest additions – and the current phase of the renovations which are ongoing – include indoor, multi-sensory attractions that help bring quintessential moments from Dutch history and culture to life. The most recent is Hof van Nederland or The Court of Holland. Jora Vision designed the attraction. Visitors get a front row seat at the First Free state Assembly which took place in the city of Dordrecht in 1572. During this secret meeting, the 12 states of the Netherlands agreed to rise against the Spanish and fight for freedom, marking the creation of the Netherlands as it exists today.

Aerial view - Madurodam

The interactive experience builds on the setting. The visitors, seated at the large meeting table, experience this historical meeting during a four minute multi-sensory show with surprising special effects and projections. Bullets fly through the room, a large map unfolds on the table, and a lion roars out of the fireplace.

“The show uses very special techniques to tell this story about the beginning of The Netherlands,’ said Bastiaan de Bruin, Creative Director at Jora Vision in a press release. ‘This 4 minute show fits well within Madurodam’s desire to have visitors actively experience the typical Dutch stories told throughout the park.’

The Court of Holland stands out for a number of reasons. The first is because of the park’s focus on reinvention during a time when outside pressures led to a drop in attendance. It provides a model for other small museums and cultural institutions that are looking for creative ways to reimagine their offerings and redefine relevance. The decision to focus on theming and storytelling is perfectly on trend for what audiences are seeking.

At another level, The Court of Holland is interesting because it’s an engaging way to present stories from that nation’s past. History can be a challenging subject to engage younger audiences, especially when they’re competing against technology. Immersion is a brilliant strategy for bringing some of history’s most exciting moments to life. The Court of Holland offers one compelling idea that could work in a variety of settings: sitting through Salem’s Witch Trials, experiencing the Alamo, or enjoying an audience with King Henry VIII.


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