How unique are you, compared to other people? How does your body change throughout your life? How agile are you? These are just some of the questions addressed by Humania, the new exhibition at NEMO Science Museum in Amsterdam. The self-tests, games, museum objects and personal stories that make up Humania invite each visitor to discover how their own head, heart and body work. Roll through the hugging machine, find out what effects smoking, sun and nutrition have on how you will look in the future or control a game through your breathing. The biology, sociology and psychology of people all feature in the exhibition. The opening ofHumania is the culmination of five years of ground-breaking renovation work at NEMO.
Humania explores the countless aspects that combine to make you who you are: from your name to how you celebrate your birthday, from your willpower to the cells that make up your body. In forty exhibits, visitors can discover all kinds of things about themselves and measure everything from their strength to their balance to their reaction time. Current themes include our modern-day obsession with human-optimization. Over sixty scientists have been involved in the exhibition and some of them collect anonymized data in a number of games for research purposes -with the consent of participants, of course.
The centrepiece of the exhibition is an 8.5-metre sculpture entitled A Handstand, created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman. The figure in a skeleton suit represents the non-measurable aspects of humanity and the ultimate balance shows the potential of the human body. The inspiration for the work was the artist’s 11-year-old son, while its monumental size means that the work transcends the human. Above all, A Handstandrepresents our human capacity to view the world from a different perspective.
The opening of Humania is the crowning glory of five years of innovation and redevelopment at NEMO. The museum remained open throughout its transformation. The interior of architect Renzo Piano’s iconic building has been completely redesigned – from the ground floor, with its visitor facilities, all the way up to the top floor with its rooftop exhibition area. Each floor has a clearly recognizable theme and a greater range of exhibits for all generations. Humania, for example, is best suited for visitors aged twelve and over.