Tagged : Amsterdam

Nachtwacht Night Watch Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

A museum is all about size and the right atmosphere

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.

Famous artists

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.

Wrong!

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.

Dutch mountain: Joke or triumph?

The Netherlands, a country known for its windmills, cheese, wooden shoes, Delftware, dikes, tulips, bicycles and its giant two kilometer high mountain.

Huh? A mountain? I thought the Netherlands is the flattest country on earth.

Nope. Not any more. At least, not if a Dutch organization gets what it wants. This organization (Die berg Komt Er) proposes a two kilometer high mountain which will be erected somewhere in the Netherlands. Newspapers report ‘there’s probably enough space for such a mountain’. Also ‘there probably won’t be any negative side effects for the environment’. Yeah, right. Costs are expected to be around 70 billion euros (that’s over 90 billion Dollars). What the mountain will be used for? Agriculture, housing and skiing to name a few. Also the giant Dutch mountain will be used as a power plant. It should generate enough energy to power the entire city of Amsterdam with 100% renewable energy.

I thought the era of mega projects in the Western world was over. So kudos to the design team who had the guts of coming up with such a bold plan. Or is it just a publicity stunt? Are the architects of this Dutch mountain out of touch with the rest of the country? To be fair, the Dutch created 20% of their country themselves, by creating land from water. So there’s no doubt we’re technically capable (or find a way) of creating a two kilometer high mountain. But… let’s be honest, we (the Netherlands) don’t need such a mountain. Why not spend 60 billion euros to make the Netherlands the first carbon-neutral country on earth? Or why not build the Roadmap 2050 design of a carbon-neutral Europe, designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas? There’s a saying, God created the world, but the Dutch created the Netherlands. It’s ever more true when the Dutch create their own two kilometer high mountain… which I hope will never be the case.


Map of Eneropa, Rem Koolhaas’ renewable world: how a new power network could solve Europe’s carbon crisis. (image courtesy: OMA)

Did you know that he current office vacancy rate in the Netherlands is approximately 14 percent and may increase to 24 percent by 2013 should all major office users decide to adopt the “New World of Work” style.

Less office space needed

A new urban model

In the 1920s, experts estimated Amsterdam would grow to 960.000 people 80 years from then. They were wrong by a big margin (2000: 740.000 people). In October, experts again calculated Amsterdam (the Randstad) will continue to grow rapidly while the rest of the country faces a population decline (Volkskrant, October 2011). I believe experts are wrong again. Here’s why.

In the digital age we currently live in, everyone has a laptop and smartphone. Most people are connected via Twitter and Facebook and information gets stored in the Cloud. All these innovations make it possible to work anywhere and anytime we want.

These developments depart from the current urban model which is used by most experts. Put simply, employees wanted to live as close to work as possible while still retaining as much space and luxury as possible. For example, the Dutch city of Almere continues to grow because of its proximity to Amsterdam in combination with more affordable housing (more bang for their buck). But what if people could live even further away from Amsterdam without sacrificing their jobs?

In recent years people started to work from their houses more often. Distance becomes less relevant, since house equals workplace. Within years, current cities and the current urban model no longer suffices, thus suggesting a new urban model.  How do we get the Netherlands future proof?

Later this week I’ll post three of my solutions. Stay tuned.

Read about three of my solutions in part 2 of this blogpost.