Tagged : history

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.

History, we know, is apt to repeat itself

Why does history continue to repeat itself? And, more importantly, why don’t we learn from the past to solve our current and future problems? It’s a question I ask myself regularly but find impossible to answer.

I wrote about putting the fun back into shopping and the end of the nightclub. In both cases history could solve a problem because it already happened in the past. Nonetheless, most people (in these cases retailers and nightclub owners) fail to learn from the past. They don’t see the solution, lack courage for big changes or hope their businesses won’t be affect by, let’s say, the rise of the Internet and/or economic crisis.

Even though I know (or believe) history repeats itself, I find it surprising to read articles which date back many years, but could be written today. Here’s an example. A couple of days ago I studied the phenomenon Niketown. At a certain moment, I came across an article describing the courage Nike had to open stores during a crisis. But the author wasn’t describing today’s economic crisis. He wrote the article twenty years ago. Nonetheless, the article remains so true, even today.

Because of the many similarities between their (Niketown) situation and the situation many retailers find themselves currently in, I want to share this 1992 article from CNN Money. It’s an interesting read. And pay attention to the last paragraph. Recently, a Dutch newspaper wrote about smaller Dutch cities having trouble attracting (a large number of) shoppers. Nike shows it’s possible to attract large numbers of shoppers despite being located in a ‘remote’ or ‘less-important’ city, in their case Portland.

Nike, it seems, is on to something. ”Today’s shoppers want to be entertained,” reports Madison Riley, a retail specialist for Atlanta-based management consultants Kurt Salmon Associates. ”Niketown is theater,” says Riley, ”and for retailers, that’s a key to the future.” Niketown is putting the fun back into shopping, and that, along with a commitment to first-rate service, is why it is our [CNN Money] Store of the Year.

Nike is bold in its timing and almost unique in its positioning: it has launched the store while the retail industry is faltering — U.S. retail sales have fallen from $186 a square foot in 1980 to $161 today — and showing no signs of rebounding. Most other retailers are offering consumers no-frills, find-it- yourself outlets or lookalike, cavernous concrete warehouse clubs. As with most fancy packages, though, this one carries a pretty price.

While athletic shoes and gear are widely discounted elsewhere, Niketown customers always pay full retail price. Nothing goes on sale — ever. Niketown is designed to dazzle you into paying $100 or so for athletic shoes, $120 for a nylon running jacket and $500 or more for a total ensemble that puts you in matching socks, pants, top and sweatband. ”Niketown combines the fun of Disneyland, the museum quality of the Smithsonian and the merchandising of Ralph Lauren,” announces Gordon Thompson, the store’s 31-year-old designer, who also worked on set ideas for the 1989 movie Back to the Future II.

There are signs that other retailers are following Nike’s lead. For example, outside Minneapolis, real estate developer Melvin Simon is building what will be the biggest shopping mall in the world — a combination entertainment and shopping center dubbed the Mall of America. Simon is betting that millions of shoppers every year will be pulled in by the pizazz.

Niketown’s popularity has been overwhelming, especially considering its location. ”Portland is not exactly the crossroads of the retail world,” quips Nike chairman and founder Philip Knight, 53. In the year since the store opened, an estimated 1 million people have shopped there.

You can read the entire article here.

mms-world-new-york

Put the fun back into shopping

“Today’s shoppers want to be entertained. Niketown is theater. And for retailers, that’s the key to the future”. You might think I pulled this quote out of a recent newspaper discussing the success of Niketown versus the trouble many retailers find themselves currently in.

Wrong.

It’s 20 years old. Back in 1992, it appeared in CNN Money. The article also mentioned: “Niketown is putting the fun back into shopping.” Nike is not the only company who realized the potential of a ‘store which entertains its shoppers’. Five years after the first Niketown, candy company M&M opened M&M’s World in Las Vegas. Currently, about 8 million people visit this Las Vegas store every year.

Several years later (2001), Apple opened their first Apple Store. In Apple’s own words: “The stores are designed to simplify and enhance the presentation and marketing of personal computing products.” Just as Niketown and M&M’s World, the Apple Store is a theater. A theater for shoppers.

The other day, I read an article about Dutch retailers struggling “because of the economic crisis”. People buy less. And when they do buy stuff, people tend to visit large well-known chain stores. Or shop online. Most retailers find it hard to compete with these large chain stores and the Internet. It’s hardly impossible to compete on price (they win). In order to survive, retailers need to find other ways of attracting customers.

Retailers should start (and win) the entertainment battle. Put the fun back into shopping. Turn stores into theaters, so to speak. Just like Nike, M&M and Apple did. These companies had tremendous success with it. So why don’t you?

OneMinute – Fairytale Castle Portugal

Everyone knows the Walt Disney Castle, a beautiful fairytale castle in the middle of the world famous Disney theme park. In Portugal they have a similar fairytale castle, or palace I should say. It’s called Pena National Palace. Although it may appear like a real palace, it’s fake. Just like the Walt Disney Castle.

The palace was completed in 1845, so it’s only 166 years old. It’s build in the architecture style of Romanticism. Put simply, this means the architects collected details and ornaments they liked (from styles like the Classical Greek and Roman styles but also the medieval Gothic style). The result is what you’ll see in this OneMinute video. I have to say, the palace looks quite beautiful, but once you realize everything is fake… well…

Enjoy OneMinute number eleven.

A new urban model (part two)

Wednesday I wrote about the need of a new urban model. Today I offer three of my solutions.

When people start to work from home more often and distance becomes less relevant, we should rethink the way our cities (and countries) are planned. Here’re three things we could do in the Netherlands.

1. Create Strategic Office Locations

These Strategic Office Locations replace the current offices in cities downtown. Since less office space is needed, only a few locations are needed. All of these office locations are located at major highway intersections outside of our current cities. Plenty of parking space and extensive public transport is available. Thus eliminating the problems we associate with cities (too much traffic, no parking space, new infrastructure cramped in old cities and always a lack of space).

2. Focus on unique housing

Home equals workspace. This results in people wanting to get out of their houses and avoid getting stressed. That is why people want to be somewhere they love to live. How many people really want to live in a generic apartment in just another suburb of a major city? I guess not that many. Since the Strategic Office Locations are centrally located and only need to be visited several times a month, people can live in the entire country.

Nature loving people might choose the Frisian lakes or Limburg hills. Other people could be more interested in locations like the historic district in Amsterdam where many shops, cinemas bars, restaurants and theaters are.

This development offers major possibilities for remote areas. Suddenly, they’re not that remote anymore…

3. ‘Super Giant XXL Megastores’

Companies continue to scale up. Companies like Media Markt, IKEA but also supermarkets like AH XL (large Dutch supermarket) and distribution centers only need a few strategic locations in order to serve the entire country. These companies will be situated at Strategic Office Locations.

Imagine how cities and entire countries will change. Is it just a dream? Or could this be our future?

Read part one here.