One of the objectives of the National Vending Machine is to provide us and partners insight in popular historical objects. Stuff that gets people enthusiastic. In a way, we’re doing an extremely fancy kind of market research. The other day I received a provisional overview of Holland’s hottest historical objects (read: top-selling items in the machine). Here they are:
- Volkswagen camper van: By far the most popular object in sales, comments and enthusiasm of buyers, probably due to its everlasting hipness and important place in the youth memories of the Culturally Engaged.
- Cow: A replica of the famous Dutch grazer in Delftware, popular to more than just the tourists. Maybe owing to its cute smile or maybe because it’s a colourful object which boosts sales (we found when testing the objects).
- Cheese slicer: The representation of being Dutch (in all its meanings) and a Norwegian invention. I’ve heard the tiny slicer actually works, especially with French cheese.
- Compass: You’d think everybody has a smartphone with GPS by now, but this ancient TomTom is still a bestseller. The movie is my personal favourite, maybe that’s why.
- Delftware kissing gay couple: More pottery in the top-five, this time with a twist. If you’ve ever been to Schiphol you know the couple (heterosexual) from arrivals, but we used another edition to tell a better story.
To be honest, I would never have guessed these would turn out to be the top-selling items. As far as I can tell there’s nothing these objects have in common that distinguishes them from other less-sold ones (maybe you can tell?)
There’s a lot we’re learning from the National Vending Machine. At the moment, the machine is in our Amsterdam office in the Zuiderkerk where we’re improving a lot of the details. Come by and have a look! Also, we’ll be speaking about what we’ve learnt about engaging people with the project at Museums and the Web in Philadelphia.