NIEUWS: Atelier of Light will not be realized in Eindhoven

In Atelier of Light, young children have the time and space to do their own research into various aspects of the phenomenon ‘light’. To experiment and form hypotheses, to make compositions, to ask themselves and each other questions and to discuss. The grown-ups do not provide them with answers; they help research and stimulate this process. In this way, children can develop their innate creativity. 

In Atelier of Light, parents, grandparents and teachers have the time and space to join their children in researching and learning new ways of developing their naturally curious disposition, inspiration and creativity at school and at home.

In Atelier of Light, artists and scientists have the time and space to research and visualise how children learn, how their creativity can be stimulated and what part art and science can play in all this.

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Creativity is crucial for the competitive strength and innovative capacity of The Netherlands in the coming decades. The initiators of Atelier of Light are aiming to create a permanent experiment and research centre in 2014, where annually 35.000 children can develop their creative capacity. This Atelier of Light would become an international knowledge centre where art and science work together to research and stimulate creativity. Robbert Dijkgraaf is chairman of the Committee of Recommendation.

Creativity reaches beyond the domain of artists and scientists. The Atelier of Light Foundation views creativity as a wide, rich concept that can help people and organisations. Children with developed creativity possess the freedom to change perspectives at any moment. This freedom enables them to think of solutions in a quickly changing, connected world that requires new answers.

The initiative for Atelier of Light parallels a broader, active discussion on the development of creativity in young children. The pilot in the Stedelijk Museum is a first step towards our ultimate goal: the realisation of an international experiment, research and knowledge centre in 2014. The Atelier of Light Foundation is a public-private initiative of a group of prominent scientists, artists, designers, people from the corporate world and parents.

Art and Science

Atelier of Light brings the usually separate worlds of art and science together in the phenomenon ‘light’. Key aspects include research, exploration, experiment, curiosity, passion and interaction. Artists, physicists, social scientists and designers are working together to develop Atelier of Light and its extraordinary workstations. Children are invited to research and experiment from both artistic and scientific perspectives.

Young children

Children are budding artists and scientists. From the moment they are born, they research and interpret their world, form hypotheses and communicate about what they experience, think and do. Children approach the unknown without fear or prejudice and change their perspective all the time.

Logic and poetics, truth and imagination, scientific questions and aesthetics, moral dilemmas and factual findings: for children, these concepts naturally melt together. However,  are usually two separate worlds, even in the spectrum of cultural activities offered to children. And that’s a shame, because the future knowledge-based economy of The Netherlands depends on the education of creative, inquisitive and enthusiastic citizens. On people who are curious about the unknown, who develop passions and who are willing to look beyond borders. Children are naturally disposed to do this. Brain scientists have told us time and time again: the younger children develop this disposition, the better!

The phenomenon 'light'

Light makes everything visible, but is elusive. This apparent contradiction is an endless source of inspiration for artists. For scientists, it has been a subject of research for millennia and the most important condition for gathering knowledge about our existence.

Light can manifest itself to an artist as a radiant, straight beam that takes us into the story with a prominent drop shadow across a painting. Or light becomes visible as a sultry summer afternoon in the work of a French impressionist or as a Dutch cloudy sky reflecting on the water. It directs the worlds of photography and film. Light blinds us, inspires us, threatens us, warms us.

To a scientist, light is no less rich: reflections, refractions and colours are always subjects of research. Light tells us almost everything we know about the material world we live in. From the stars in our universe to the smallest building blocks of our existence: we know them through our lenses, mirrors, telescopes and microscopes. That also results in practical applications, including environmentally friendly LED-lighting, incredibly sharp HD screens and fibre optic cables that carry enormous amounts of data.

Inside the atelier

The heart of Atelier of Light is an inspiring space with workstations, where children can play by themselves or in groups and experiment with different aspects of the phenomenon ‘light’.

Apart from the workstations, Atelier of Light comprises four other spaces:

  • Reception area, where visitors can enjoy an introduction of the Studio and its subject ‘light’.
  • Workshop and office, where our people continue to develop the workstations. Also for collaborations with e.g. museums and for designing tools that can be used at home and in school.
  • Auditorium for exchanging knowledge about creativity and how children learn, and the part that art and science play.
  • In residence offers a space where artists, scientists, pedagogues and psychologists can temporarily develop their own work or perform research in conjunction with the children’s own research.


Atelier of Light is a place for artistic and scientific research on all levels. Research, curiosity and independent exploration are the central values. This makes Atelier of Light a unique place to study how children learn and the creative strategies they employ to form and express their theories.

Atelier of Light’s tutors have a pedagogical, artistic or scientific background and are specially trained. They document the children’s research process in text and image, a form of research through practice. They don’t provide the children with (‘correct’) answers; they stimulate the children to keep asking themselves and each other new questions and forming new theories. The supervisors are curious and open to the unexpected ideas, thoughts and experiments that the children come up with.

Artists, physicists and social scientists work together on the development of Atelier of Light. Pedagogues and developmental psychologists have the opportunity to study the learning process of children and the role art and science play. Artists and scientists can temporarily work in residence to develop their own work or perform research related to that of the children. Atelier of Light also offers internships to art and pedagogy students.

The children’s work processes in the Atelier will be carefully documented in text and image. The supervisors use this material to reflect, adjust their supervision strategies and to further develop the workstations in the workshop with the other team members. Our insights also serve as a source for conferences and exhibitions for parents and professionals that are involved with young children. In this way, Atelier of Light aims to become a so-called ‘creative early learning centre’.


The project team of Atelier of Light lets itself be inspired by the learning theories of social constructivism and by the Reggio Emilia approach, particularly the image of the competent child and the role of art and science in the learning process of young children.

Some important notions:

  • A child is born with the potential to develop itself and to express itself in a hundred different languages: through words, image and sound, through materials, through logic and poetics, through motion, through calculation and so much more.
  • Every human being and every child learns by interpreting its experiences and ideas while interacting with its previous ideas, with age peers, with adults and with the world around it.
  • Children are today’s cultural builders and have a right to a contribution of their own.
  • The essence of accumulating knowledge is not the reproduction of what adults offer, it is creatively constructing one’s own thoughts and hypotheses in relation to existing culture and social environment.


Want to read more? These works are great to start with:

  • Arthur Zajonc, Catching the light
  • Joop Berding, John Dewey over opvoeding, onderwijs en burgerschap (in Dutch)
  • Annemieke Huisingh, Rixt Hulshoff Pol en Ellie van den Bomen, Toeval gezocht kunst kunstenaars en jonge kinderen (in Dutch)
  • Jerome Bruner, Actual Minds, Possible Worlds
  • Gunilla Dahlberg, Peter Moss and Alan Pence, Beyond Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care
  • Ap Dijksterhuis, Het slimme onbewuste (in Dutch) / Das kluge Unbewusste (in German)
  • Reggio Children + Project Zero: Making learning visible
  • M. Cathrene Connery, Vera P. John-Steiner, Ana Marianovic-Shane, Vygotsky and creativity

Team & Partners


  • Annemieke Huisingh, pedagogue, projectleader
  • Eva Klee, visual artist, TOEVAL GEZOCHT
  • Femius Koenderink, physicist, FOM Institute AMOLF
  • Rooske Franse, programme developer Science Learning Center, NEMO
  • Tessa Timmermans, project leader TalentenKracht, Platform Bèta Techniek
  • Bas van Tol, designer, Müller Van Tol and Harm Rensink, designer

TOEVAL GEZOCHT Foundation (toevalgezocht.nl)
TOEVAL GEZOCHT Foundation was founded in 2008 after the first extensive project with 15 preschools, 15 artists and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Most important objective: the exploration, visualization and support of the learning potential of children, with specific attention to the role of art and artists and to the connection between art and science. The foundation also intends to strengthen the part children play within cultural institutions. TOEVAL GEZOCHT plans projects in which young children, schools, art institutions and artists collaborate, it coordinates networks and initiates research. TOEVAL GEZOCHT collaborates with domestic and foreign partners in this.

NEMO Science Center (e-nemo.nl)
With more than 500.000 visitors NEMO is the biggest science centre in The Netherlands. Everything at NEMO has to do with science and technology. Interactive exhibits, theatre performances, children’s lectures, workshops and science shows. Inside the centre, you smell, hear and feel the way in which the world works. NEMO has its own expertise center in the field of extracurricular learning about science and technology: the Science Learning Center (SLC). The SLC develops knowledge, products and services with the aim to make learning at school more pleasurable and to help the message become more embedded.

TalentenKracht (talentenkracht.nl)
TalentenKracht is a research programme into children’s talents in the field of science and technology. Researchers from many different disciplines (brain science, linguistics, mathematics and developmental psychologists, among others) work together in search of the natural curiosity of young children and of how to preserve and expand it.

FOM Institute AMOLF (amolf.nl)
The FOM Institute AMOLF, located at Science Park, Amsterdam, performs fundamental scientific research into complex atomic and molecular systems. The researchers use light in the form of lasers, spectroscopy and microscopy to study the dynamics of molecules, proteins and cells, and also work on nanophotonics – the physics of light on the smallest possible scale. The Studio fits in perfectly with AMOLF’s mission to transfer knowledge and applications to businesses and society.

Müller Van Tol (mullervantol.nl)
Design firm for industrial and interior design. Located in Amsterdam and under the direction of Christiane Müller and Bas van Tol. Interior designer Bas van Tol is specialised in temporary interiors with an eye to the identity of the project and the context of the situation. Spaces are created in which the experience is important and the meaning is open to individual interpretations. Some realised projects are: Restaurant and club ‘11’, the lounge of the European Council in Brussels, entrance hall Museum of Textiles in Tilburg, entrance of the main office of SNS Reaal and the exposition ‘The Children of Reggio Emilia’ in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.


  • Theo Kemperman, chairman, biologist and cultural entrepreneur
  • José Schiphorst, treasurer, economist and formerly director health facility
  • Jeroen Büchli, secretary, internet communication expert and film scholar
  • Femius Koenderink, physicist, professor of molecular and atomic physics and senior project manager FOM Institute Amolf
  • Nicky Zwaan, visual artist
  • Paul van Geert, professor of developmental psychology and chairman of TalentenKracht (consortium of seven Dutch universities)



  • Robbert Dijkgraaf: director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and distinguished university professor of mathematical physics, University of Amsterdam
  • Jelle Jolles: professor of educational neuropsychology en director of LEARN!, VU University Amsterdam
  • Giny Vos: artist
  • Joke van Leeuwen: author, illustrator and performer


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