North & South - 4D experience of a medieval altar
European masterpieces form North and South reunited
Tinker imagineers designed the temporary exhibition North & South - European Masterpieces reunited, on view at Museum Catharijneconvent from 25th October 2019 in Utrecht, The Netherlands. The museum brought rare masterpieces dating back to the High Middle Ages together from Norway and Spain. It’s a unique combination since this type of art from Middle Europe has been all but lost. Tinker designed a voyage of discovery to the origins of these extraordinary objects. As part of the exhibition North & South Tinker created a 4D experience of the medieval altar.

1. How do we ensure that it is not just a special exhibition showing unique objects, but that we convey the medieval feel, to help visitors imagine themselves in the Middle Ages, in the midst of a modern interpretation?
2. No complete altar from the Middle Ages has been preserved anywhere in the world – only single treasures related to the altar. How do we help visitors visualise the altar?

Design solution
The starting point for North & South is the oldest wooden statue of the Virgin Mary (around 1240 CE) in the museum's collection. This 'mysterious' Mary raises many questions. Where was her home in the Middle Ages, and what was her function? Visitors will discover that her family members can be found in the far north and south of Europe and that there are remarkable similarities in the visual language, as travel was quite common at the time. In addition, all these pieces on display are linked to the altar, although a complete altar from the High Middle Ages has not been preserved anywhere in the world. Each of the five rooms has a different atmosphere, containing a piece of the puzzle that will help them unravel the mystery of this type of art. Step by step, we take the visitors on a spiritual experience.

The last room contains the grand finale of the exhibition is the way Mary has impressively returned to her original context. We brought her spiritual world to life in a 4D experience of the medieval altar. Through projections, art, music, and scent, visitors get to experience how medieval people may have experienced the celebration of Mass. Curator Micha Leeflang: ‘This is the first time we can present a complete picture of an altar from the period between 1100 and 1350. This unique exhibition brings a forgotten part of history to life.’ The audio-visual spectacle is an unexpected apotheosis of the journey through North & South, past beautiful medieval treasures.