The ‘Wheel of Time’ museum that defends the freedom of thought

Written by By Caitlin Kateverzo, CNN London, CNN

The Throne Room of the Wheel of Time Museum provides a beautiful vantage point to observe the fortunes of the Internationale Randstadstrasse. You’re watching the global wheel turning — says the museum — “in myriad ways.”

Founded in 2015 by T.V. Stapff and N. Keith, three Dutch businessmen, the museum houses more than 100 3D glass sculptures made by renowned metal artist Voie Leeuwen, known as Twin Doodles. With the approval of the museum’s patrons, the sculptures depict famous personalities from the worlds of business, sports, politics and fashion such as Tyson Chandler and Lilly Wu.

Yet it is the Wheel of Time project, which was inspired by Nepalese Hindu mythology, that may prompt the most change within the public’s perception of celebrity.

“We did get a lot of questions from potential visitors who were of course shocked and initially thought it was some kind of science project,” says Stapff. “They wondered if we had invested in the project because we were working at a company that makes locks.”

The Wheel of Time

The Wheel of Time Museum showcases the artwork in a glass enclosure, without the constraints of installation

“People who were true ‘Wheel of Time’ supporters would make it clear that it is of no interest to them and would gladly step outside. So it really captured the most important questions and being forced to stand outside for hours became an opportunity to really think deeply about the world we live in,” he adds.

The museum has met by mainly general, commercial critics, says Stapff. While it does make a profit from its touring exhibition, which runs every five months, the museum is designed to appeal to a broad, aesthetically pleasing audience. It is thought that visitors are drawn to it by chance or to take pride in supporting business.

“It is difficult to continue to try to find a way to justify paying the money,” says Stapff. “I think we need to be ready for this, as it will always be there.”

It is, says Stapff, mostly forward-thinking patrons who come to the museum, and there are plans to open a store-front in the future, but for now the museum is busy managing the items that are on display. Stapff estimates that the museum has over 200,000 people visit each year, and hopes to raise donations for the arts and culture in the cities it visits.

The Wheel of Time is a private museum where visitors can pay to see the artwork, and though it’s not free, the fee is a reward for being good stewards.

“Doing this job is a lot of freedom, because I feel that everybody should have this freedom to think for themselves. This is why we focus on philanthropy,” says Stapff.

Bespoke problem solving

The Wheel of Time provides a unique opportunity to help facilitate cultural movement in the room as well as promote entrepreneurship

There are no film crews here filming, says N. Keith. Instead, journalists are asked to leave and instead members of the public contribute a “membership,” by registering with the museum online.

The doors are open at the Wheel of Time Museum in Amsterdam. Credit: CILLIAS MILNER-GILLION

“The museum is founded on a service, not a product. We invite everyone to live with this experience, what a personal time capsule,” says N. Keith.

Together with Stapff, the three founders hope that the Wheel of Time Museum could become a space where members of the public can think for themselves, interact with each other and find a sense of community.

“Maybe it’s an origin of new ideas or a set of questions that challenge the status quo,” says N. Keith. “But at the end it’s about bringing people together to discuss together about quality, ethics, quality of life.”

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