ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Across the centuries, what has brought people in Europe together?
What traces can we find of these past interactions in our lives today?
"INTERACTIONS" reveals stories about people moving and meeting, about travelling ideas and goods, about encounters and exchange, into a kaleidoscopic view of Europe's cultural history.
“INTERACTIONS” is a meeting place: It invites you to interact in different ways, just as previous Europeans did, when they were trading, fighting, or negotiating. Come and interact with the exhibition, play games with other visitors!
“INTERACTIONS” invites you to discover using all senses: You will see beautiful objects, play musical records, listen to stories of people meeting, smell perfumes, touch cloths and discover the history of pizza and croissant!
TRACKING MY EUROPE
What connects you to places across Europe? The introductory space of the exhibition is devoted to a collaborative digital mapping experiment. Contributions of online and onsite visitors from everywhere are expected to produce a unique cartography mapping people's connections and preferences.
Click on the link below to contribute to this live mapping! Answer a few questions to map your connections to places in Europe and beyond. Then explore the links being created in realtime on this unique map by visitors in the exhibition and online.
The Market Place, the Battlefield, the Assembly and the Café - Encounters
Europeans have constantly been moving and meeting across national, regional, linguistic and ethnic boundaries to exchange goods, fight wars, negotiate agreements and share knowledge. They have sometimes clashed, sometimes coexisted, sometimes co-operated, but always exerted an influence on each other in one way or another. Even in times of border closure, withdrawal and exclusion, encounters have never really ceased.
The merchants, soldiers, diplomats, artists and other social and professional groups at the centre of these interactions have brought together multiple habits, interests, ideas and tastes, resulting in Europe becoming a transcultural space.
Through a selection of key events and developments in European history, the exhibition evokes where and how these encounters happened, which social actors were involved and looks at their various experiences.
Long-distance trade between commercial partners of different origins has always created opportunities for encounter and exchange. Trade leads to profit, networks and interdependence, which can reduce the likelihood of armed conflicts. Trade develops well in times of peace but often stalls in times of ideological conflicts and wars.
The nature of fighting has very much changed throughout the centuries: From face-to-face combat to long-distance killing. The types of fighters also changed, from knights to mercenaries and finally, professional soldiers. With more distance between the fighting parties, means of communication gained in importance.
The current routine of multilateral negotiations is the result of a process in which Europe has played a central role throughout history. In the Middle Ages, conflicts were solved rather spontaneously. With the Peace of Westphalia, peace congresses became a regular tool for ending wars. In the 19th century, international organisations were established to ensure long-term cooperation.
Scholars and artists have often been at the forefront of transcultural exchange in Europe. Many intellectual and artistic works are remarkable illustrations of the intense cross-border circulation of people, knowledge and know-how that developed in places where the cross-fertilisation of ideas and talents were particularly sought after and celebrated
The Kitchen, the Living Room and the Bedroom - Exchange
Although the things to be found in this part of the exhibition might look quite familiar and ordinary, every object tells a story – often unexpected – of human contact across borders. Many things that are part of our daily life became so only through a unique process of cross-cultural influence within Europe and with the rest of the world. Doesn’t this make our everyday environment much more fascinating?
The flow of people, goods, practices and ideas that characterises human history ensures change within all cultures. Sometimes words of foreign origin that we find in our languages give us a hint of that reality, sometimes it is more hidden. This room is an invitation to discover the culturally mixed nature of many of the things that surround us.
The history of cooking, drinking and eating in Europe is maybe the best theme for illustrating the fertile and impactful contacts that have existed between different regions, nations and continents. Various ingredients, recipes and utensils you likely have in your kitchen today have crossed borders in the hands of cooks, sailors and other travellers, evolving and influencing each other.
Writing, reading, drawing, playing or dancing: all attitudes and activities that convey a multitude of thoughts and ideas in the form of messages, methods, models and motifs that are being constantly exchanged and changed. A number of inventions are the result of the way people from various origins learned from each other and influenced each other throughout history.
The bedroom is dedicated to the tales and legends that mirror the fruitful encounters across space and time. Cross-border dynastic marriages but also military conquests played a leading role in the introduction and diffusion of new fragrances, textures, techniques, styles, and habits in Europe.