Museum Perron Oost in the East of Amsterdam claims to be the world’s smallest museum. The museum’s ambition and impact, however, are all but small. Last week during one of Amsterdam’s regular meetings of neighbourhood museums, in five minutes the museum’s director Anet Wilgenhof shared countless examples of their social and participatory, often community-driven work. The one (of many) that stood out for me involved dogs, their owners, and shows how simple it can be for a museum to connect with strangers.
Buoyant barking, in Dutch ‘opgewekt blaffen’, is a photography and storytelling project by De Verhalenwinkel, in and around Museum Perron Oost. Its ambition was to show the neighbourhood of the museum through the eyes and ears of some of its keenest observers: dogs that are walked in the area.
To understand the origins of the project, you have to understand Museum Perron Oost. The museum is based in a the format cottage of the overseer on a now disused train platform in the eastern docklands of Amsterdam. Decades ago, it was saved from destruction by an artist, who transformed it into a stately walkway. It is a beautiful site, and the museum tries to use it to stimulate connections and relations in the neighbourhood. With only six square meters of gallery space, to do so Anet and her team have to look beyond the walls of the building.
Museum Perron Oost. (Photo by Carien van Leeuwen)
Anne van Delft and Peet van Duijnhoven of De Verhalenwinkel discovered that the platform was part of the route of many people walking their dogs. This observation provided them with the target audience for the exhibition. They chatted with the passersby about the neighbourhood and their dogs. The stories about the dogs were better, and became the basis of the project. Continue ReadingRead More »