Some museums leave you feeling as though you will never see them in their entirety, that you need to choose something to focus on. Jewish Historical Museum is one of them. The permanent exhibitions on Jewish religion and history, plus two temporary exhibitions are just too much to take in for one visit. This is ideal for those who hold a multiple entry museum pass and can always come back to continue where they left off, but the one-time visitor will need to make a plan and decide how to criss-cross the museum, or alternatively, be blessed with an unending attention span.
The fact that the museum seems to ask its visitors to choose a focus actually fits the message they are intending to deliver. The Jewish people have a moral obligation to perfect the world, which they try to accomplish by spreading awareness. And the only way to do that is to take time with important moments and events, whether it’s together with others or individually. Even though the teachings of this religion are more than four thousand years old, its message still rings true today.
The museum is very inspiring, but the sheer number of stories and objects on display makes it difficult to remain focused. All the touchscreens with even more menus, two auditoriums, four hundred years of history and all the art combined with a vibrating phone in my pocket and a long to-do list in my head make me wish I had time for reflection. Glancing out the window, I can see the Portuguese Synagogue – my next stop?
Are you also looking forward to higher temperatures? Wait no more – visit the Hermitage! The unique collection of Spanish art will transport you to the Mediterranean in the 16th and 17th centuries. In their paintings, Spanish masters such as El Greco and Ribera tell the stories of a world gone by. Go see the Spanish Golden Ages and the kingdom in which the sun never sets.
The Spaniards, just as the Dutch city guard, let themselves be immortalized in a stately manner on portraits and in excessive decoration of their buildings. Painters such as El Greco, Ribera, Zurbarán, Velázquez, Murillo and Goya welcomed this opportunity with open arms. The temperament and pride of the subjects in those paintings are now part of the decoration in the Hermitage.
The highlight is the hall that is dedicated to the Spanish Golden Ages. Velázquez shows his revolutionary side when he immortalizes not the rich ones, but everyday objects. Zuloaga is known for his nationalistic themes and the walls glitter with pride. This pride is also seen in the decorated furniture and the craft in armor that symbolizes the status of the one carrying it.
The exhibition would not be complete without Spanish bullfighting, which is represented by Villegas‘ paintings and a documentary about Enrique Ponce, a famous bullfighter. The exhibition is full of typical elements of Spanish history, politics and nationalism. The setting also plays a part in all this: the red and yellow colors in combination with the art make it look Spanish, royal and almost theatrical. The experience is completed by the musical audio tour. The sounds of Moorish and Spanish music that was written by DJ Von Rosenthal especially for this exhibition will soothe your ears. It really is a heart-warming experience. Enjoy!
This exhibition was on view untill 29th of May.
The current exhibition at the Tropenmuseum, The Sixties – A worldwide happening, offers playful insights into the 60s in the West, as well as Asia and Africa. Even though they were politically turbulent years, cultural life flourished and people were liberated like never before. The last point can especially be seen in the Tropenmuseum. Or is it not just perfectly balanced?
Upon entering, the exhibition springs to life with life-sized dolls and objects, arranged in a playful manner. Where shall we begin? I was free to choose my own route, probably as a sort of consequence of the emerging postmodernism of this still somewhat chaotic decade.
The 60s played out with the background of WWII, decolonization and the Cold War. Independence for countries in Africa and Asia represented a search for their own culture and identity. On the other hand, in the West there were protests against the Cold War and capitalism was expressed through posters, slogans and music. Despite their differences, east and west found inspiration and refuge in each other. Western influences seeped through to the eastern culture, and eastern spirituality, free drug use and new fashion styles fed the so-called hippie period.
The 60s were a period of liberation, unending creativity and also technological advancement, and this exhibition represents just that. The background and causes of this cultural phenomenon remain largely unexplored. It is difficult to assess how the young of today and the unknowledgeable visitor will experience the exhibition, and if they will really notice the playful side of it. Go see for yourself and enjoy. As John Lennon once said: ‘Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.’
The Sixties – A worldwide happening was shown in the Tropenmuseum until March 13th.