Longing for Mecca Exhibition

Merit Award 2014

The Hajj—the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and the largest gathering of Muslim people in the world every year—is an important part of the world’s culture, yet it has not been explored on a substantial scale in a Dutch museum before. Kossmann.dejong provided the concept and design for the temporary exhibition Longing for Mecca–The Pilgrim’s Journey at Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde (National Museum of Ethnology) in Leiden, The Netherlands.

The challenge was to create a personal exhibition accessible to a wide audience. Longing for Mecca takes visitors on the pilgrim’s journey, guiding them through a step-by-step introduction to the Hajj. Previously on show at the British Museum in London, it was redesigned and adapted for a Dutch audience.

Objects from various collections, personal stories, and in-depth reports provide a comprehensive picture of the journey. Each space in the exhibition represents a stage in the Hajj, made distinct through light, color, objects, film, and sound.

Graphic design plays a significant role in the exhibition themes. Each stage of the Hajj is represented by a different color. At the entrance, texts from the Qur’an on pieces of fabric provide, for instance, the setting in which a dynamic presentation of moving letters was chosen deliberately. Stimulated by this “longing” for Mecca, in the next room visitors receive practical tips on how to prepare for the Hajj. An impressive range of facts and figures is presented graphically. The long corridor that follows displays a series of maps that each show a different route to Mecca.

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Jury Comments: 

“To engage, inform, and delight are key elements that I search for in an exhibition, and Longing for Mecca accomplishes all three. The visual display of artifacts, infographics, and personal stories create a rich tapestry of a religious experience unique to one of the world’s leading religions."

Design Firm: 



Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde

Location City: 

Leiden, The Netherlands

Project Area: 

8,610 sq ft

Open Date: 

September 2013

Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 

© Thijs Wolzak

Design Team: 

Design:  Kossmann.dejong

Concept and Production:  Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, British Museum


Marc Heinz Lighting Design (lighting design), IJsfontein Interactive Media (interactives), Editpoint, Invision (audio and audiovisuals)


Iris Vormgeving, Vertical Vision, TARS Visuele Presentatie (construction); Dutch Mountings (mountings)

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