The Boerhaave Museum is the leading science museum in the Netherlands, and Philips has carried out research there for 100 years. For the celebratory centennial exhibition, both Philips and museum director Dirk Van Delft wanted to avoid an overly historical feel. Instead, by using innovative technology, they created an exhibition that was engaging, future-focused, and highly illuminating.
Dirk van Delft explained, “We wanted an atmosphere that looked forward. Not just a look at the past and a lot of brown wallpaper.” Working with Dutch designers Northern Light, the museum conveyed the innovative spirit of Philips, both in content and delivery.
The technologies used included our Luminous textile panels, which display images and moving visuals. But the star of the show was our LED-based Indoor Positioning System. This new technology uses GPS to provide people with light and information according to their specific location. Visitors were given iPads, which used their position to relay facts about nearby displays. Subtitled ‘100 years of inventions that matter,’ the exhibition started with the history of the light bulb. It then moved on to areas like the development of radio and the use of calming light in MRI scanners.
Ferrie Aalders, head of business excellence at Philips Research, said that one of the exhibition’s aims was to show how active Philips is in research. “The Dutch perception is that research activity has decreased,” Aalders said. “In fact, we’re collaborating with more research institutions than ever, and we’re now among the largest industrial laboratories in the world.’’
The last few months of the exhibition included work from the late photographer Ed van der Elsken, who documented our research facility in a uniquely gritty manner. Associated conferences were also held, and while the exhibition was open, museum attendance rose by 20-30%.
Aalders said, “We were very honored that such a prestigious museum wanted to pay attention to the first century of our company.” Retail giant Carrefour has now implemented our Indoor Positioning technology in its store in Lille, France. How fitting that an exhibition about the history of research could also draw attention to new technology!