Lost At The Museum? This Ingenious 3-D Map Makes Navigation A Cinch

Navigating 2-D floorplans might be the most annoying part of visiting museums. The 3-D Paper Pathfinder makes finding galleries easy.

Most major museums are a nightmare to navigate, and typically all you get to help you find your way is a flat map covered in tiny print and confusing numbered diagrams of floorplans. The Netherlands’ Rijksmuseum has 100 rooms, housing more than 8,000 paintings and art pieces. Just when you think you’ve finally found the Dutch Masters, you realize you’re lost in the boring ancient clogs showroom.


To help out confused museum-goers, Marjin van Oosten, a Dutch graphic designer based in New York, created the Paper Pathfinder for the Rijksmuseum. It pops up from compact 2-D form into a miniature 3-D paper model of the museum building, giving you an instant, visceral sense of the layout of the space. It requires no tape or operating instructions, and you can fold it back into its 2-D form and stow it in your bag or pocket when not in use. The Paper Pathfinder has just won a Dutch Design Award at Dutch Design Week.

Van Oosten came up with the concept for the design nine years ago, at age 19, while still in her third year of her graphic design bachelor’s degree. Her university asked her to create a pathfinding system for a new building. “I wanted something that you can hold in your hands,” van Oosten writes in an email. Years later, when ING Bank, a head sponsor of the Rijksmuseum, was looking for a designer to create a gift for people who paid their museum admission with an ING card, van Oosten adapted her Paper Pathfinder concept from design school to the Rijkmuseum’s architecture. The 3-D map is now free to museum visitors.

The design has great potential for use in other museums–and indeed, van Oosten is in talks about creating a Paper Pathfinder for the notoriously sprawling Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.