The Netherlands Architecture Institute possesses one of the vastest architectural collections in the world. Although this collection occupies the largest part of the building, archiving happens in a rather invisible manner. So invisible actually, it has given rise to fascination and speculation: the archive as a (contemporary) temple, accessible to the top of the (architectural) clergy alone.
The pleasure of the use of an archive is in essence the quality of the place itself: its fragile smell, its economy, the tactile unveiling of precious treasures. The concept for this archive exhibition aims at answering two questions: how to exhibit architecture convincingly and how to make an archive accessible for consultation in a reliable way.
Taking the systematic nature of an archive as a starting point, the approach opts for maximal systematization of the exhibition. This ambition was introduced to deal both with the extreme variety of the collection as with the disparate character of the exhibition spaces.
The presentation of the collection strives to achieve spatial simplicity and clarity. In practice, the route consists of a continuous loop, a three-meter wide promenade with punctual densifications. Since there is no real beginning or end, the visitor can start the viewing at will. The archive wall functions simultaneously as concentrated exhibition furniture, a subtle light source and an object structuring the space. The collection items are shown bare, without passe-partout’s or other help means. The systematic of the wall generates a presentation as neutral as possible, one that allows the viewer to project his/ her own personal reading of the collection.