Woke up very early this morning, and hopped on the tram down to the Rijksmuseum. Like the Stedelijk, it is undergoing major renovations. I took the tram more out of curiosity (or laziness), as the museum is walking distance from my hotel. Their ticketing system is strange: a long strip of paper, which you feed into a punch-system on the tram car. Theoretically, you could get by without purchasing or punching your ticket, but for the ever-present conductor walking up and down the tram car looking at people's tickets. Sure makes me pine for the Metrocard.
Due to the temporary accomodations at the Rijksmuseum, very few works out on display, mostly Rembrandts, Vermeers, etc. Most of the temporary exhibit focused on paintings by lesser-known artists which give a historical context to the Dutch Golden Age, which was fine by me, as I'm currently riding a post-Barroque Cycle 17th & 18th century kick. Some interesting paintings by Fredrick Boll caught my eye (until recently, some of these had been mistakenly attributed to Rembrandt, as Boll was one of his pupils). I was surprised at the small scale of the Vermeers in general, they always felt like they would be much larger, particularly 'The Love Letter'. That being said, it was amazing to be standing up close and personal with these works, and due to the fact that I got there early, it wasn't too crowded yet. 'The Nightwatch' was on display, of course, at the end of the exhibit. Again, it's not as imposing a painting as I supposed– I was expecting something physically larger (not that the actual 'Nightwatch' is not large, in and of itself, but I guess I've picked apart this painting so many times in dark art history classes as a huge projection on a lecture hall wall, that seeing it in person was a bit anti-climactic (I'm sure this has to do with the way it was hung, too. The museum has been relegated to a tiny corner of the building while renovations are in full effect). Regardless, seeing all the paintings up close was definitely worth it. It's such a different experience when you can appreciate the painting up close, and get a feel for the artist's hand, the quality of the brushstroke, etc.
I was lucky to arrive at the museum early, and by the time I got to 'The Nightwatch', it was starting to get a bit crowded. Once outside, I said a little "Hellz yeah" at having gotten there so early– the line to get into the museum was now snaking around the block.
I walked around for a while, taking in this more upscale part of the city. Many high-end shops around the Museumsplein area, hoping to reel in the more 'cultured' –and affluent– tourists, as opposed to the hippies, stoners, college students, and general plebe of the more kitschy and souvenir shop–infested Centruum. I briefly toyed with the idea of going into the Van Gogh museum, but after taking a look at the long-ass line to get in, I reconsidered: Van Gogh isn't really one of my favourites, certainly not enough to stand in line for two hours waiting to get into a crowded museum, only to be jostled around inside by boorish tourists wielding cameras of all shapes and sizes. If I had one more day, and could get there early, as I did for the Rijksmuseum, then it would be fine. As it stands, van Gogh can wait for me until I come back.
Tonight, I'm gonna roll by the Vankrijk, a squatter bar recommended by my friend Ben. They don't open until 22:00, so in the meantime I'm going to go check out the opening of a small gallery exhibit at Artis, entitled 'Rembrandt Re-mixed'. As the name implies, the show consists of contemporary Dutch artists' taking imagery by Rembrandt and re-mixing it into new work. Should be interesting.