I took this photo in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. In my view, it depicts what a museum should be. So, what are the ingredients for a great 21st century museum?
Size of the museum
Size matters. Very small or very large museums will attract most visitors. Why? These museums simply stand out. And that’s important for today’s Facebook/Twitter generation.
Size of art
Size matters. Very small or very large paintings fascinates people most. Above you’ll see the Night Watch (Dutch: Nachtwacht) by Rembrandt van Rijn. It’s 3,6 x 4,3 meters (yep, that’s huge!). These kids love it. Why? Because it’s something you can’t see at home or in a textbook. I guess it’s the same reason why people continue to watch movies in cinemas. The size of the screen is simply bigger. It’s an experience your HD tv doesn’t offer, so you’re willing to pay for it.
Sadly this is true. In the Rijksmuseum, more people enjoyed the paintings of Rembrandt van Rijn and it’s famous Dutch colleagues compared to paintings of lesser known artists. But I guess the same is true for other art forms like movies, books, et cetera. A famous author, director or actor simply attracts viewers/buyers more easily.
Mysteriously famous paintings
Why do people want visit the Louvre in Paris just to see the Mona Lisa? Or why do people want to see the Night Watch (Nachtwacht) in the Rijksmuseum? Because these paintings are famous. Why are these paintings famous? Because an aura of mystery surrounds these paintings. And that’s something we like. Why is it something we like? Because it’s easy to blog/Twitter/Facebook about, since everyone knows what you’re talking about.
The right atmosphere
So, what’s the right atmosphere for a museum? It depends. It’s not about long corridors with paintings anymore. People want to sit down, relax and enjoy the atmosphere. As pictured above, the Rijksmuseum offers these two kids the opportunity to sit down and enjoy the Night Watch. A day at the museum is like a day at the beach. It’s about the opportunity to escape a fast-paced lifestyle. A break. It’s not just about paintings anymore.
It’s not about modern vs. old
Some people are convinced new generations aren’t interested in old paintings anymore. In order to attract younger visitors, museums should display modern art.
It’s not about modern versus old art. The photo (top) proves this. In this case, the museum offered these kids the right atmosphere and a very large and mysterious painting. These kids sat down for a pretty long time. In fact, most adults already moved on. These kids didn’t. That’s why this photo depicts what a museum should be like.