Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rijksmuseum and Other Artsy Places

Today I'm going to try and keep my mind from wander and actually write about the things I set out to write about yesterday, namely museum visits in Amsterdam. I have, ever since those obligatory museum-visits in school had very mixed feelings about museums, and there really is, or at least can be, something *slightly* pretentious about some museums and it's visitors.

Oh you know what I'm talking about, the artsy hoity-toity people who like to show off what they themselves believe is initiated and intelligent knowledge of a particular work, or works, of art. Whilst those of us who actually don't have the need to show off our possible knowledge would very much like to enjoy our museum visit and a certain piece of art in silence. We either silently snickers at those pretentious fools or mutter in annoyance at the spoilt experience.

But having said that, I'm no stranger to visiting such hoity-toity magnet museums now and then, especially not when abroad. The must-visit-museums, sometimes they turn out to be a complete overall disappointment - other times being just delightful. And many times it's the museum in itself that is just lovely, not the actual art on display. One example of that latter is, IMHO, Danish Louisiana - which I'm certainly not going to write anything more about here and now, except for saying that the atmosphere, the garden and its situation overlooking the channel between Denmark and Sweden is well worth the visit in itself. And oh yes, for the museum shop extravaganza.

Back to Amsterdam and its plethora of museums, I would have liked to visit a few more but the time didn't allow that, so in the end the plan was sized down to three - the lovely museum of handbags and purses, Rijksmuseum and what will remain a secret for a while still. I can say as much as it has to do with tiny, furry, fourlegged friends that often meow...

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Rijksmuseum was situated not very far from our hotel, in an imposing, wonderful building that looked absolutely enormous - M said that it would take at least five hours to wander around there, so one can say I was both disappointed as well as relieved that the museum turned out to be far smaller interiorwise than exterior. Which I came to understand might have something to do with extensive renovation work that has been going on since 2003 and will be finished in 2009, seven years of renovation, that's a really long time...

So while the renovation is underway the art displayed is only what they call the masterpieces. To walk through the museum take about one-three hours depending on how much you're enjoying the things displayed, or perhaps on how artsy hoity-toity you are... As far as I'm concerned there were some really wonderful, exquisite paintings to lionize as well as those... um, not so interesting. I must say that I found the well-known, much acclaimed Rembrandt painting The Night Watch to be more than slightly boring. It just didn't play in the same league as the grand, lively with amazing intricate, exquisite details of the same sized painting by Bartholomeus van der Helst - Banquet in celebration of the Treaty of Münster

A couple of other favourites were the entertaining painting Winter landscape with iceskaters by Hendrick Avercamp. Such amazing richness in details, and such humour. Nearly enough tiny details to discover for a lifetime. Delightful indeed. And that very special light and sublimeness of Willem Claesz Heda's still life, lovely.

After having fed the mind it was time to invigorate the body - at a café in the park nearby the more the sophisticated part of the museum visitors chose coffee and carrot cake, while the more... um, plebeian part chose this - ah, the profanity of it all...

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