Can you make a life-and-death decision?
Suddenly, it’s there. Overnight, an imposing structure appears in one of the Netherlands’ busiest public squares. Not knowing what to expect, passers-by enter The Bunker and are transported to 1942, into the heart of World War II. Several spaces within reveal the daily lives of four fellow Dutch citizens during the conflict. What moral dilemmas did they face? What difficult decisions were they forced to make? By popping up in a local setting, The Bunker reaches beyond the museum market to communicate with a new audience. Based on real-life survivor stories, the project elicits a strong emotional response and helps the younger public to understand the importance of history.
Everyday setting, eye-opening reality
Becoming the protagonists, visitors are asked to make the same decisions as The Bunker’s characters. ‘People were really shocked,’ says NorthernLight cofounder Peter Slavenburg. ‘They were really thinking through and talking about their choices. We didn’t just promise to make people think; we actually did. We wanted visitors to understand that war isn’t only about soldiers and combat. Whereas many of our projects are transformative on a technological level, The Bunker elicited a deep emotional and moral response – elements that are rarely touched upon in our industry.’
Layers of meaning
Inside The Bunker, images depicting the reality of today’s surroundings become projection surfaces, superimposed with elements specific to the World War II period: barbed wire, warning signs and so on. A short scene plays out in each of the rooms: a moral dilemma that demands a spot decision. ‘You’re being set off to work in the German factories. Do you hide or obey?’ ‘You discover a friend is the son of a traitor. Do you maintain the friendship?’ Only after answering such tough choices do visitors learn that these are, in fact, true stories. An interview with each story’s survivor discloses what actually happened, enabling exhibition-goers to comprehend the richness and complexity of such decisions. The Bunker received the Dutch Gouden Reiger Award for best interactive exhibition in 2008.
weeks in each city
expected visitors per location
portable building units
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