Royal Joh. Enschedé Collection, Noord-Hollands Archief

In the Gothic galleries of the Janskerk in Haarlem, Todd van Hulzen and Studio Louter are reimagining an exhibition space for the Archive of North Holland to permanently house a great monument of Dutch history and identity: the collection of the state printer Royal Joh. Enschedé.

Anyone who has ever admired the beauty, ingenuity and intricacy of a Dutch guilder banknote knows the work of the firm Joh. Enschedé & Zonen, now Royal Joh. Enschedé. This Haarlem company has been responsible for the design and printing of Dutch banknotes, securities, stamps, hallmarks and journals for more than 300 years and so doing has become synonymous with reliability and authenticity. However, most people know the firm for the sheer beauty of its intricate work: engravings and embellishments so fine that they were virtually impossible to reproduce. The entire archive and physical collection of Royal Joh. Enschedé is at the disposal of the Archives of North Holland. This includes many original designs for banknotes by M.C. Escher, and examples of early securities. We have an entire suite of designs for the Bank of Java, designs for postage stamps and original copper plates for Dutch guilders.

The challenge is to transform a meandering space inside a medieval monument into an inviting and informative visitor’s experience. How do you control blazing light from giant gothic windows without losing their beauty? How do you keep the delicate collection protected from shifting climate and bright light? How do you make a logical routing in an immovable, indifferent vessel? How do you balance whimsy and gravitas in a way that stimulates the visitor?

In September 2018 we created a provisional design embraced by the client to be used for further fundraising. If all goes according to plan we will have working designs under construction in 2020. What you see here are the first experiments in form, content and routing. Keep posted!

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