The Cultural Garden of Amsterdam

11 Oct 2016

Kissing, Diseases and Other Little Things

Microbes are the smallest and most versatile form of life on Earth. We are somewhat aware of the microorganisms that surround us: germs, bleu cheese and washing your hands after going to the toilet. But did you know that at any given moment you are carrying a kilo and a half of these microbes around with you? Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Museum Micropia brings this micro-world to life.

Microscopes are waiting for you to use them as a true lab technician. Just zoom-in to see the lively water fleas, or focus the lens to see the fungus. The beauty of the micro world is breath-taking and it takes me a few moments before I realize that my skin also bears the now familiar corral-like pattern of the fungus.

The museum makes it perfectly clear that bacteria are not a threatened species. With the ‘Kiss-o-meter’, you are invited to kiss (in what other museum can you do that?) and the message is ‘Congratulations, you have just exchanged 80 million bacteria.’ If you compare this to the number of people, it means that in those few seconds you exchanged the whole population of Germany with that of Turkey. But imagine now that there are more bacteria present in your mouth than there are people on Earth, and you will see that the movement of 80 million microbes is not as drastic as it sounds.

Because all this life is so incredibly small and adaptable, you could say that Micropia is almost a philosophical experience, where the unseen is magnified to its true life-changing potential. Visit the museum and explore the kilo and a half of microbes that you provide a home.

posted by José Boon

‘As a student of Public History at the University of Amsterdam, I've visited most of the museums in the Plantage and report here on my experiences!’

José Boon,
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