Thursday, 15 March 2012

Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam)

The renovation work at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam is well underway with the re-opening aimed for the Spring of 2013. As one of the new parts of the museum, the Asian Pavilion was introduced to the Dutch media recently.

The department’s curator, Mr. Menno Fitski, explained that the Netherlands has developed a deep-rooted relationship with Asia through its longstanding trade relations, and has collected various works of art from especially China, Japan, Korea and Indonesia. Of those collected works the museum owns some 7000 pieces. From this large collection, some 365 pieces will be on display at any one time in the new Asian Pavilion and of those, 250 pieces will be regularly rotated. Eventually almost the entire collection will have been exhibited to the public.

The uniquely shaped Asian pavilion, which is separate building linked to the old Rijksmuseum building, was designed by the Italian architect Antonio Ortiz. The pavilion has a ground floor and a basement with an overall area totalling 670 square meters. The plan is to display works of art from India and Indonesia on the ground floor, and works from Japan, China and Korea in the basement. A pair of Niō (strong, angry guardians of the Buddha) statues from Japan were recently added to the collection. Together with a 12th century sculpture from India representing the god Shiva, and a statue of Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy) from China, these form the centrepiece of the pavilion.

Mr. Fitski highlighted three of the pavilion’s special characteristics during his introduction. First, the relaxed atmosphere allows visitors to view the works at leisure. Second is the unique look of the pavilion, which is designed to highlight the works of art displayed within it. Thirdly, despite the building being quite compact, its use of the stairs and hallways give a surprisingly spacious feeling.

Famous works of art that are very popular with visitors, for example Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” and works by other 17th century painters that the Dutch are proud of, will be displayed together in the central part of the new Rijksmuseum. Also, to allow visitors with only a little time to capture the essence of Dutch painters, a special elevator has been built that takes them directly to the Night Watch Room where the “Night Watch” is on display, and then on to the adjacent “Gallery of Honour”.

Starting with the call for a new design, the Rijksmuseum faced many difficulties during the renovation process, but the end is now finally in sight. However, the renovation is not the Rijksmuseum’s only problem. Despite being one of Europe’s model countries economically, the Netherlands has not been able to escape the current economic crisis. Last year the Dutch government drastically cut subsidies to art and music. Therefore, the various agencies involved in the world of art have been forced to find sponsors and funding in order to financially support themselves.

Many organizations are of course sympathetic towards the (fine) arts. An appeal has been sent out to companies with a long-term outlook for public relations and advertising; donations have been requested through ‘patron’ type groups and a campaign has been set up requesting ordinary individuals also to make donations, which in the Netherlands are tax-deductible. Everywhere great efforts are therefore being made to find support for the arts.

Rijksmuseum, The Masterpieces

Jan Luijkenstraat 1, 1071 CJ Amsterdam
Opening hours:
Every day from 9:00 to 18:00
Closed: 1 January
On 25 December the museum closes at 18.00
Please note: the museum ticket counter closes at 17:30!