Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rijksmuseum Opening

You may have heard that the Rijksmuseum is now open after 10 years of renovation.

Before the opening, there was a well done flashmob recreating one of the museum's most famous paintings, The Nightwatch.  You can see the video here.

Last Friday I was able to take a tour of the new museum, mostly focusing on the restoration; the changes they made and the whys.  It was really interesting, and I wanted to show you some photos.

First the outside, just in case you weren't familiar.

There's always been a 4-story art history
library inside, but now it's open to the public.
Anyone can come and browse this very large

Originally, when the museum opened in 1885, the ceiling and walls of the main upstairs areas looked like they do now, but in the 1950's everything was painted white.  Part of the renovations entailed re-creating the original designs. 

The upstairs foyer.

It all leads to The Night Watch.  On either side
of this very large corridor are alcoves with some
of the main works in the museum.  We didn't
stay here long.  There were too many people
to actually see anything.

Up above the alcoves were representations of different types
of art.  This one is Plateelkunst (pottery, or ceramic art).  The
two artists on either side are famous Dutch ceramic artists.

The Night Watch (De Nachtwacht)

The windows out in the foyer were never covered up, and they were really beautiful.  There are four of them, and they each feature a different artistic discipline: painting, sculpture, architecture, and interestingly enough, philosophy.  Each window is divided into three main rows.  The bottom row has four named figures from four major time periods in Dutch history: Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, and Enlightenment.  The middle row shows how the discipline was carried out in that time period.  The sculpture window below shows what the gentlemen's workshops would have looked like.  Then the top row had four different artistic occupations, for a total of 16, seeming to have no correlation to the subject below.  You can see the weaver's (wever) window below.  Male figures dominate the windows, but the four periods of architecture don't feature people, just styles, and female figures are holding the representative buildings.

In a minor stairwell I found this donor window.  ING is a bank here.  I thought it a rather permanent and somewhat novel way to honor the museum sponsors.

And finally, two object photos I can't resist sharing.  There was a small costume section on the ground floor, which gets changed out every 6 months, and it currently contains female costumes from the early 1800's.  Perfect, no?

I may have to make this dress.

And the second object is the Dirk Hartog plate, which was a very early marker a ship's captain left on an island of the coast of Western Australia.  It's considered one of Australia's most important historic objects, but it was returned to the Dutch government when a later captain discovered it (who also worked for the Dutch East India Company), and replaced it with his own "I was here" type marker, and took this one back to the Netherlands with him.

When Dan gets back from the states we'll be going again, so you may see more photos soon-ish.

Afternoon Activities

Two projects this afternoon, both taking advantage of the (finally) spring weather.

First, the flower pots along the front of the house.

From this...

to this,

and this.  A little sparse, but better than it was.

My second project was considerably less fun: de-snailing the back yard.  I don't know where they come from, but they keep showing up.

My nice little pile when I was done.  These things really
gross me out.

But I'll end on a better note.  I finally have a tulip blooming. (Almost)

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Elfia--Elf Fantasy Fair

Yesterday, Dan and I went to Elfia, the largest fantasy fair in Europe (I think).  It was crazy.  Crazy crazy and crazy busy.  I'm used to historical fairs, (Renaissance and Dickens-era mostly), and this was so much different.  There were vampires, Firefly characters, mermaids (one with full fin being carted around in a wagon), Steampunkers, comic book characters, manga characters, Dwarves, Hobbits, tons of elves, lots of Stormtroopers, Lolitas, furries, historical reenactors, several Doctor Who's, and all sorts of "other".

It was held at Kasteel (Castle) de Haar, a gorgeous Neo-gothic castle outside Utrecht.  The event is held two weekends per year, and has a cap of 12,000 people per day.  They had to establish that this year because they discovered in previous years that more than that made it a bit too crowded.  Personally, I wish there had only been maybe 6-8 thousand.  It was a huge site, but both Dan and I got completely overwhelmed by the crowds.

Definitely going again, but will be a bit more prepared next time--and I'll be wearing sunscreen.  I never forgot it in Australia, but here I'm used to clouds all the time.  So I'm a bit pink.

This was the entry line for the people who

The beautiful castle.

Some historic reenactors.  Notice the wooden shoes!

Steampunk goodness.

Cup o' Soup dress?

Steampunk stroller!

A hanging of a heretic.  This was amusing to watch.

These three people were UBER-DUTCH.

A very creative family in tie capes and coats.

We were definitely in the minority not being dressed up.  Maybe only 10-20 percent of attendees weren't in costume.  So next time we WILL be dressing up.  I just have to figure out as what...

Bloemencorso (Haarlem Flower Parade)

Yesterday Dan and I weren't able to attend the flower parade, which goes from Noordwijk to Haarlem--a 40km route.  The parade takes all day and I hear the route is full of people the whole way.  Fortunately, the floats are on display in central Haarlem today so I was able to go see them--and encounter A LOT more people than I expected.  I'm guessing everyone in Haarlem who wasn't able to see the parade yesterday, and probably a lot who were, decided to check out the floats today.  Anyway, on to the photos.  Oh--and the theme of the year was Bon Appetit! so you'll see a lot of food-related floats.

Those are lemons behind me, in case you couldn't tell.
Also, you can kinda tell I'm a bit sunburned.

A large percent of the flowers were yellow and purple.  I think it's because they were what's currently available.  All the yellow seemed to be daffodils, and all the purple looked like lavender.  I don't know about lavender, but daffodils are everywhere these days.