Micropia

By | September 21, 2020

I am attempting to gradually visit all of Amsterdam’s museums in (very) roughly alphabetical order. The previous one was Hollandsche Manege.

Micropia is a museum of microbes. It walks you through the stories behind this largely invisible but hugely important class of organisms, with primarily interactive exhibitions and displays delving into the detail of all manner of tiny things.

Once you enter, the (very helpful, in my case) staff member will show you through the gates and give you a brief explanation of how it works. You then ascend to the top floor in a lift that has an introductory display going on on the ceiling. This is something of a sign of things to come: the museum is chock full of displays providing information about all sorts of things.

Once you exit the lift, there are various displays, usually with a microscope you can control, or a magnifying glass, showing you all kinds of microbes, from cyanobacteria to water fleas, from fungi to tardigrades. This does tend to make it difficult to photograph. On the other hand, what is photographable is pretty cool.

Cyanobacteria on the big screen

Cyanobacteria on the big screen

Bacteria growing in a tall glass tube

Bacteria being feed all kinds of good stuff to look colourful

A flask helping grow bacteria with a spinning mixer

A house for bacteria

Mosquito lavae through a magnifier

Mosquito larvae in water. Boo.

A row of magnifiers looking at swimming microbes

Swim! Swim!

A giant tardegrade

A tardigrade. If ST:Discovery taught me anything, this is a baby one.

Further on there is a lab where people work to maintain the collection. Amusingly this is displayed in a somewhat similar fashion to the rest of the exhibits, just without the magnification.

Scientists in a lab

A scientist (or a very large microbe?) in its natural environment.

A map explaining the lab

A breakdown of what you can see in this exhibit.

A sign explaining the microbe of the month

This month’s special is Streptomyces noursei.

The microbe of the month

I hope you’re hungry!

Ants moving leaves around

Do you want ants? etc.

Rows of bacterial samples growing on petri dishes

Microbes can be colourful, again.

After showing you a lot of microbes, there is a section that explains the relevance of microbes to the larger world. This covers things like how they are important to digestion, or breaking down of dead animal and plant matter. There are also a few human-sized gesture-interaction screens that explain things like microbes on the human body, or what gets transferred during kissing.

A dead baby giraffe

Not the giraffe. The Giraffe is not for kissing.

Examples of algae in various products

Green algae leads to all sorts of things.

After the top floor is completed you descend a spiral staircase back to the ground floor. In this area it’s explained how microbes are used in the production of various things, such as biofuel, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. Also a neat display showing how they take over when you leave food out for too long.

Some beers

Beer is a very important result of microbes, yeast in this case.

A glass bacteriophage

This glass bacteriophage would look cool in my apartment.

  • Cost: Adults (over 10) €16, children €14. With a Museumkaart it’s free.
  • Language: English and Dutch.
  • Location: Plantage Kerklaan 38-40, 1018 CZ Amsterdam. It is inside the Artis zoo, but accessible without having to pay entry to that. The number 14 tram from Centraal Station to the Artis stop is probably the easiest route to take.
  • Hours: Open daily from 11.00-17.00. According to the website reservations are mandatory at the moment, but I didn’t need one. I think it depends on how busy it is.

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