Tagged : Netherlands

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.


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.

It’s sunny in January

It’s a crazy winter. Last year, Friesland was covered with snow. Lots of snow. The canals were frozen and we were anticipating the elfstedentocht. This year, temperatures hardly drop below zero. It feels like spring. Above are three unedited photos I took earlier today. Check it out yourself.

1 Staatsbosbeheer bij hoogwater Soestpolder Burgum


“The situation is Burgum is somewhat critical” according to a reporter of Dutch news channel NOS. First, Burgum, thats where I live! Second, OK, there’s heavy rain, strong northwesterly winds and risk of some flooding… but to call the situation in my town critical… on national TV. That’s a bit exaggerated. After all, we’re Dutch. We live below sea level. We should be used to these kinds of situations.

But why is the situation in Burgum critical? I really don’t know. After googling around, it turns out there’s a polder nearby – reclaimed land that is drained by pumps and mills – which will be deliberately flooded to lower water levels elsewhere. Is this what the NOS meant by critical? I took my bicycle and went to this polder, the Soestpolder. Once arrived, I couldn’t see a thing, since civilians weren’t allowed on site.

Luckily I met a guy who helped creating the polder several years ago. He toured me around and allowed me to visit the floodgates. Thousands liters of water flowed into the dry and empty polder. It was impressive for sure!

While listening to the roaring sound of water streaming into the polder, I spoke with a forester of Staatsbosbeheer (National Park Service), a volunteer of the Vogelbescherming (Birds Conservation organization) and the guy who helped building the dikes. I learned a lot today. Oh, and made some photos too. Check ‘m out below!

(above) Standing on a small dike next to a large canal (Prinses Margrietkanaal). As you can see, it doens’t look like a dike anymore…

(above) A small dike separates the Soestpolder (left) from the open water (right). On the left, the water level is low. On the right… it’s considerably higher. This really is a dike-in-action.

(above) The floodgates in a dike next to the Prinses Margrietkanaal opened.

(above) Open floodgates allows water to flow into the polder.

(above) Water from the canal streams in the polder.

(above) A forrester from Staatsbosbeheer (National Park Service) inspects the polder.

(above) View of the Soestpolder. Several hours ago, this was all dry land.

(above) Inspecting the polder.

(above) Almost-flooded-houses next to the canal.

(above) A dike separates open water (left) with the polder (right). Several hours ago the polder was dry land, now it’s deliberately flooded to lower water levels elsewhere.

(above) Staatsbosbeheer inspects the polder.

(above) On this panorama photo it’s easy to see the difference in water level of the polder (left) and canal (right).

(above) The Netherlands is a flat country. Today it got even more flat. The small diagonal piece of land used to be a small dike. Not anymore…

Christmas Eve Special Vrije Baptisten Gemeente Bethel Kerstnachtdienst 1

Christmas Eve

I didn’t plan on doing any more blogging in 2011, but… People who follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter know I directed the Christmas Eve special at Bethel Church Drachten (almost 6000 visitors spread over three services). I couldn’t resist but to upload a few video stills of the broadcast (these images are from the very first minute of the program). The stage design is just phenomenal!

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)