Art / History / Museums / Social Commentary

Rijks (space) Museum, Amsterdam (Review)

I bought tickets to the museum in May last year, as part of birthday gift to my lover. We did not get to use it until yesterday. (Yes, we could linger for very long to execute a plan.) Since then, the subject of Rijks (space) Museum came about and it’s always an average review, some even weren’t happy about interior design, exhibition design and so on. So we came in somewhat informed about what is to be expected.

The first thing we notice about the exhibition set up was that everything seems to be having painfully grey background (grey on grey… grey, grey) and its confusing building layout. I notice how they struggle a lot in displaying such beautiful and large collections of Rijksmuseum and I am not entirely sure why. The fact that they open up cyclist pathway through the museum was strange as well. Because of this for the visitors to enjoy the the periodic set up of main collections we had to go over this path, cut to De Nachtwacht, and then continue the periodic journey. I just thought it is a strange decision making in designing the museum.

There are a few rooms in the museum that were kept the way it used to and they were wonderful and charming. There are even one of the rooms where they recreate the light and it works really well. The special collection section was quite nice and gives a sense of dark underground safe and a slight theatrical feel to it. I quite like this area of display. The Bibliotheek is also rather nicely kept and a warm inviting place.

There were many reviews complaining about the caption. Unfortunately, I had to agree with them. After quite a few times trying to find out more information about an artwork or object, I, either found myself annoyed or distracted. This 10 word rule per sentence is a ridicule to me as an audience. I stopped reading the captions and enjoy the art – more information to be had on internet I suppose. Hmm.

I gave it a night to have the museum experience sets in, I thought maybe I’d feel better about it the next day. I was wrong. The only thing that salvage this new Rijksmuseum is its strong collection of works, which was later I learned that in this newly renovated one – they only show 10% of its collection. Due to space constraint I suppose which is understandable.

I like that the Rijks (space) Museum commit to their public programmes. Groups of tours with well knowledge docent is always a delight to follow.

On a lighter note though, it does make me think and appreciate more about smaller scale museums available in various cities. Local museums. Their wooden floors creak and the rooms has special character smell. I miss these in larger scale art museums. A sense of mystery and learning – the unknown. The feeling to want to know more and more.  In the end to me museum is still a place to learn.


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