Like many others, I was absolutely blown away the first time I saw Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest viral videos.
So when I heard about the Universum Theo Jansen Exhibition at Museum Prinsenhof in the beautiful city of Delft, I dragged my family along for a cold winter day out.
Theo Jansen is a Dutch artist who has been creating these kinetic sculptures known as STRANDBEEST (translation: strand=beach and beest=beast).
His creations are made from lightweight and inexpensive materials such as PVC tubing, soda water bottles, tapes, tie-wraps and polyester sails.
The artist’s thought process begins in the winter, creature(s) are then born in the spring, evolve in the summer and extinct in the fall. With backgrounds in art and engineering, Theo has devoted himself in constructing these self-propelled lifelike animals to walk on the shoreline of the North Sea, powered only by the surrounding wind. Some of his creations are able to drive themselves in the absence of wind and even walk away from the water to avoid drowning.
It is only appropriate that the exhibition is right here in Delft, where Theo first started obsessing with PVC pipes. The exhibition is spread out within 5 halls of Museum Prinsenhof.
Visitors are invited to view up close and personal on Theo’s methods, tools, materials and his past creations through sample pieces, mechanism on displays, video clips, guided tours and workshop for older kids.
The best part of this exhibition is of course the live demonstration! There are 2 live sessions on weekdays at 1330hrs and 1530hrs and an extra session at 1130hrs on weekends. They called it REANIMATION. All sessions are conducted in Dutch, but I am sure someone will be able to provide information in English as well.
During our visit, the handler explained to us the different types beasts and their sizes. He continued further on how wind power-up STRANDBEESTs outdoor and indoor, how the energy is stored and how the legs and sails operate. We were told that all of these creatures at this exhibition are extinct! It means these beasts are retired from walking on the beach but only reanimated to walk in museums for demonstration purposes. There was a large display on the side of the room documenting all the STRANDBEESTs existence and their evolution through many generations (in English too). Theo Jansen has been creating STRANDBEEST for the past twenty years. Imagine the size of the family tree! Last but not least, we were allowed to take turns walking a STRANDBEEST – Animaris Ordis around the gallery. We were simply overjoyed!
Universum Theo Jansen Exhibition is on till 5 March 2017. You got to experience it.
When you visit, check out Museum Prinsenhof’s permanent exhibition:
– Delftware, the making of a global brand
– Masters in Innovation, Delft creating history
– William of Orange, Father of the Nation
Address: Sint Agathaplein 1. 2611HR Delft.
Opening hours: Tuesdays-Sundays from 11am -5pm.
Entrance fees: €12.00 (adults), €3.00 (4-12yrs), €6.00 (3-18yrs) and kids 0-3 yrs are free. Free entry for Museum Card holders and other cards. Check site for details.
Audio tour is available in Dutch, English and German for additional €3.00.
By train – about 10 minutes walk from Delft train station. Walk toward Oude Kerk (a tall leaning tower!)
By bus 51 and alight at Prinsenhof bus-stop
By tram number 1 alight at Prinsenhof & tram number 19 alight at Nieuwe Plantage.
By car – nearest parking garage is Phoenixparkeergarage (Phoenixstraat 29)