Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Amsterdam - Part Three of Three

Other posts in this series:
Part One of Three
Part Two of Three

Finally! I've reached the final post of my Amsterdam series, as well as the final post of my combined Paris-Amsterdam September 2012 series. One of the drawbacks of taking three months to edit and post photos is that I've forgotten some of the details that would enhance the posts.

Note to Self: In the future, carry a notebook with the camera.

This post will deal primarily with our visit to the Rijksmuseum, one of The Netherlands' major national showcases. When we visited, the museum was in the final phase of a major renovation, so more than half of the exhibits were not open to the public. Nevertheless, the exhibits we did see were wonderful. I'll note here two places we did not see that will be on our itinerary if a return visit is in our future: the Little Hermitage museum and the Rembrandt House.

We visited the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum in one day. This wasn't difficult, because, in addition to the closure of a significant chunk of the Rijksmuseum, about half of the Van Gogh museum was closed due to the preparation of about half of its holdings for a temporary exhibit across town at the Little Hermitage. I'm not a big Van Gogh fan and nothing I saw in the half of the museum that was open (the admission price was slightly discounted, since the exhibit was incomplete) compelled me to change my mind. If we return to Amsterdam, I do not need to return to the Van Gogh Museum. Since photography was forbidden, I don't have any photos to share (as you breathe big sighs of relief). Thus ends my discussion of the Van Gogh Museum.

Let's proceed to the Rijksmuseum.

The museum celebrates The Netherlands history, and also houses many impressive types of artwork.

One of several dollhouses:

A reminder of The Netherlands history as a notable naval, commercial and colonial power:

Busts of some Very Important People whose names and accomplishments have completely escaped me. Hence, my need for a notebook.

A porcelain bird cage. The mystery of these is how artists prevented the thin porcelain slats from melting during the firing process.

No self-respecting tea drinker could pass up this:

These are just two of many (scores? hundreds? who knows?) of pottery pieces on display, not surprising in a country known for several beautiful pottery styles. Another impressive art medium perfected by the Dutch is metal etching. Many of these are rather small, so it's amazing how much detail is included.

Aside: I saw an amazing display of Rembrandt etchings in Detroit 12-13 years ago; it was a traveling exhibit and I was fortunate enough to be attending an academic conference in town at the time. Confession: my academic advisor and I skipped a couple of conference sessions to go see the Rembrandts. She did amazing wood carvings in her spare time and was particularly enthralled with the techniques of metal etching. It all worked out okay; we both presented our papers as scheduled and I managed to graduate in spite of my truancy.

As you can guess, no Dutch art museum would be complete without paintings by the Dutch masters. Again, my lack of a notebook really hurts right now, because I can't for the life of me tell you who painted most of these pictures.

I can tell you a bit about this one because the uncropped photo included the explanatory caption. As you know, The Netherlands is known today for its high tolerance for, and acceptance of, diversity. Sad to say, this was not always the case. The photo below, entitled The Iconoclasts, shows Protestants desecrating a Catholic church in one of that nation's less open-minded periods.

I'll close the photo portion of this post with some Rembrandts. Well, I'll be more precise - I know the first one, the famous Night Watch, and the third one, the equally famous self-portrait, are Rembrandts. I think the middle one is too, but don't hold me to it.

The Night Watch is a huge painting. Now that I'm looking closely at this photo, I'm pretty sure this is the small version, which doesn't include some of the details contained in the full-sized version (takes up an entire large wall). The full-sized painting has a wider scale than this one. This one would fit in your living room. I guarantee the larger one wouldn't (unless you live in Versailles).

I have many other photos from the Rijskmuseum, but I think these give you the gist of what I saw. Remember, more than half of the museum was closed, so there's far more to see than what I've posted here.

Overall, I consider our visit to Amsterdam a success and I'd like to go back again. I'd like to experience more of the museums, more of the Dutch countryside, more of the cuisine, and more of Dutch culture generally. If you're looking for a place in Europe to spend a few days, consider taking a trip to Amsterdam. I'm sure you'd enjoy it.

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