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A Short Stopover Day in Amsterdam

NETHERLANDS | Monday, 19 December 2016 | Views [425]

I had a ten hour layover in Amsterdam and wanted to use the time to visit a few museums.  It is easy to take the 197 bus from the entrance to Schipol airport to the Museumplein or directly to the Rijks Museum.  There are a number of museums within a block of two of each other around the garden park where in the winter there is a skating ring next to the Museum Shop.  The Van Gogh Museum is perhaps the most popular one in the area and, while I had wanted to get there, the entrance line was so incredibly long that it looked as if it would take well over an hour to just get to the ticket office.  That didn’t seem to make sense, esp. as it was chilly, foggy and wet, so I headed directly to the National Museum.  The Rijks Museum is in an old palace; the collection is divided among four floors. The oldest materials, starting from around 1100, the Special Collections, which had a variety of porcelain figurines as well as tableware and musical instruments, and the two room/floor Asian collection on the lowest level.  In the 1100-1600 section there are a few excellent Madonna and Child sculptures from Germany, and France and some nice Italian – primarily Florentine and Venecian – paintings.

The next floor is dedicated to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and consists mainly of portraitures and battle scenes along with still lifes from regional and low land artists; including two Van Goghs.

The majority of the highlights of the museum, other than those in the early Middle Ages, are located on the third floor, for works from 1600-1800 including a number of Rembrandts and Van Hals. The Hall of Honor alone, with the “Night Watchman” at one end is worth the E17 entrance price. At the other end of the hall is the Leidan Altar currently on loan from the city to the museum.  This work is especially important in that it escaped the 1566 iconclastic attacks against Catholic imagery almost completely intact.  The bright light colors of the inside triptych are in contrast to the darker hues portraying Peter and Paul on the backside/closed cover, and diametrically opposed to the dark background light streaked famous painting by Rembrandt at the other end of the hall.

The top floor is reserved for 20th – 21st C artists and I didn’t go up there as I needed a break after spending over six hours on the lower floors.

 As I still had some time before heading back to the airport, I went over to the Diamanat (Diamond) Museum.  It is housed in an refurbished townhouse with the collection located on the first and second floors. The first floor consists of posters describing how diamonds are formed and how they have been valued over the past few millennia. The second has a room dedicated to explaining the difference between synthetic diamonds and the real ones, and another that showcases diamond headdresses including replicas of various English crowns. The third room on the upper flow displays a skull incrusted with thousands of small diamonds so that it glitters off the surrounding mirrors that line the walls.  It is an interesting exhibit and one that is worth looking at if one has a half hour before catching the bus down the street back to Schipol for a night flight to one’s next stop.  Mine was to Cairo.

Tags: city visit


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