Experience the lives of the orphans of the Almsman’s orphanage

See how lovingly the mantle of motherhood was taken up during the family exhibition entitled Vondelingen, or Foundlings. Allow yourself to be deeply moved by one of the most poignant archives under the auspices of Amsterdam City Archives. Through animated shadow play, we tell the personal stories of six children and reveal how it was to be an orphan.

These emotional stories included in the exhibition are backed up with archived sources and borrowed items. You learn about administration in the 18th century orphanage and the complexity of archive management through the interactive search game.


Amsterdam City Archives

Term: 01/06/2020 – 04/10/2020
Year: 2020
Location: Stadsarchief Amsterdam

Photography: Mike Bink

“Everything is correct in the Synergique design: the look, the light, the sound and the rhythm. Visitors are quickly brought to the particular frame of mind in order to be able to feel and understand the destiny of such foundlings.”
Ludger Smit – Curator Amsterdam City Archives
Maternal love, poverty and caring for others

Foundlings demonstrates universal and current themes connected with mother’s love, poverty and caring for others, and establishes the link with caring for young people as we know it today.

Animated films

The animated films in the exhibition are shown on the blue walls. Each film tells the story of one child, there are six in total. We learn how and where the children were found, how they got their names, how they grew up and where they ended up. The stories are harrowing and address the situation of the poorest people of Amsterdam.

Six animated films have been made for this exhibition.
All six films can be viewed here

Archived information

At the back of the room is a filing cabinet which holds part of the collection. The thick, fragile books give a good idea of the scope. We have made a replica of some of the books to serve as a basis for the archive game. By looking yourself, you unravel the story of one of the children bit by bit. You learn to read the handwriting and learn to connect different sources. More than anything, you learn about archiving information. Is there an archivist hiding in you?