I will try my best to not give you an art history lesson while talking about today’s adventures, but I mean seriously you place an art person in an art place and instantly as if a geni were to appear from bottle, I turn into a nerd.
Mom and I hit the streets for an almost two mile walk to Museumplein, the street where several museums are located in the southern burrough. Amsterdam has a total of 75 museums, but we focused our efforts on TWO! It made for a pleasant afternoon of exploring and discussions about what makes art art?
The first stop was Rijksmuseum, don’t ask me how it’s pronounced. It is also known as the Dutch national museum, sadly unlike London there was a fee for entrance. Remember in London when their national museums were 100% free, amazing! But the cost was minimal and prior to leaving we purchased a bundle through tickets.holland.com. The two museums and an excursion to North Holland were offered at discounted rates and we saved about 30 euros at both museums. It helps to plan ahead and every small saving can add up.
The Dutch national museum is home to nearly 1 million pieces of art. This includes small wooden Asian relics to massive paintings spanning 85 meters in length. I am certain we only covered a small fraction of the space. I guess since I didn’t explore every nook and cranny, I will have to visit Amsterdam, again! I could drone on about the amazing art from Vermeer and Rembrant or gas on about architectural details of the building that once was the Royal Palace, but I will resist and simply share one exhibit.
After we finished the formal tour using my Rijk App and these cool plastic mat info sheets, we walked into a photography exhibit of native Carel van Hees’ of public schools in the Netherlands. The photographs were displayed on large hinges and measured 4×3.5 feet and we turned the pictures, as if they were large printed boards. The images van Hees captured were from elementary to college age students with sporadic quotes from teachers, researchers, and the Dutch Department of Education. Knowing first hand the struggles of my own classroom and just having completed research with art teachers around the state of Georgia, it was reassuring to see similar trends in a completely different country. From lack of student engagement to the influxes of immigrant populations, they seem to juggle the same problems we face it the States. I will say that a majority of the pictures from the High School series showed several technical classes such as welding and nursing. I know we are making small strides at reimplementing a technical training program in our schools, but it was cool to see young men and women gaining practice and job experience in schools.
Our first museum trip ended with an art time in the Rijksmuseum classrooms. Mom and I copied a master work from a postcard and then displayed them with other aspiring artists. Now, we have both had art hung in a foreign national museum. Can I add this to my resume?
We picniced on the Art Square lawn with the sun shining bright and many people kicking back. Mom and I both the wondered how was it possible that so many people mid-week, mid-day were not working, but what do the crazy Americans know?
My boy, Vincent van Gogh’s museum was next! Van Gogh had a very difficult life. He battled mental health issues, had difficult relationships with family and friends, and wondered how he fit into the art culture. The museum was organized chronilogically from his first paintings like the Potatoe Eaters to his final works of art in the wheat fields. I was in awe of his bold use of color and amazing lines and movement in his brushstrokes. It saddens me to think he never knew his selfworth and never sold a painting in his lifetime. Ironically, he now has his own museum! No pictures were allowed inside, but I was able to draw three thumbnail sketches of three paintings, I had never seen: Wheatfield under Thunderclouds, Red cabbages and onions, and View of Orchard Blooms in Aries. A very inspirational trip, with my mom spotting a cool quote circling the ceiling, “Drawing is the root of everything, and the time spent on that is actually all profit” (1883, in a letter to Theo). All of my doodling and scribbling away is all profit. It helps my brain organize thoughts and form a world of colors and lines. I am going to provide you with one nerd alert link to Art Project. An ambitious program of Google to scan master works of art on a microscopic level. You MUST check out Starry Night by Van Gogh, click here for this life changing view!
We hit a cool spot for dinner called Foodhallen, similar to Ponce City Market in the ATL. Edamame, curry chicken pot pie, and mini tarts for dessert was a delicious way to end an inspiring day of art.