Monday, February 20th, 2006
The Rijksmuseum was first, an imposing structure that was actually mostly undergoing renovation – the open galleries were really quite small, hence the sizable lineup to get in. The cat in the picture was a stray wandering in and out of the crowd, eventually choosing to perch in the archway to the museum. Despite the renovations, the museum was exhibiting their entire collection of Rembrandts in addition to pieces from other Dutch masters. Rembrandt’s works – including his most famous piece “The Night Watch” – were all very impressive, but I think I preferred the displayed works of Johannes Vermeer.
It was interesting to go from the very formal and realistic works of the 17th century masters to the decidedly more intense and emotional works of Vincent van Gogh, appropriately housed in a much more modern building than the Rembrandt collection. Despite the massive crowds in the museum, I was still able to view some legendary pieces and get a decent basic education about van Gogh.
De Poezenboot is a houseboat in the Jordaan quarter that has become a home to stray and unwanted cats, and is a bit of a low-key attraction. I had thought it might be like some crazy old lady’s living room overrun by felines that would make my head explode from allergies, but it was actually more of a proper kennel (or whatever the cat equivalent of a kennel is) with a modest number of very comfortable and generally friendly cats holding court. Very cute and furry.
Attempts to go shopping on Westerstraat were foiled by the fact that everything was closed on Sundays (and Mondays, so I won’t be back today), so I swung by the Huis Marseille photographic museum to see an exhibition of works by Isidore van Kinsbergen who documented temples and royalty in Java, Indonesia in the 1860s.
That pretty much wrapped up the daylight portion of things, and the idea for the evening was to catch Clap Your Hands Say Ja at De Melkweg, but apparently indie kids are the same worldwide because it was plum sold out. I did get tickets to see The Subways with Jeff Caudill tonight, so at least there will be some more rock before I depart The Low Countries.
But there was a contingency plan – something called Wordscape, which was a cross between spoken word and instrumental improvisation and was fairly interesting to witness. Musicians with a variety of instruments including piano, clarinet, trombone and vibraphone would flank a poet/performer and play alongside his readings whilst taking direction from a conductor in the middle of the room Certainly different, it probably would have been more engaging if I could understand Dutch at all.
More photos of the day at Flickr.
Billy Bragg’s Volume 1 box set has been delayed until March 7 due to a “manufacturing error”. Which makes my MP3 of the week now completely without context. Boo.
np – Rob Dickinson / Fresh Wine For The Horses