A visit to Boijmans
Boijmans, for the uninitiated, is short for Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, which is, according to Wikipedia, ‘the main art museum in Rotterdam’, my hometown. In this case, I agree with Wikipedia. The museum has a huge collection of artworks from across the ages, and yesterday I was among those for the duration of my visit. That is, I went to the museum.
The vast collection of old paintings, pottery, utensils and ceramics alone is worth a visit to the Boijmans museum. Especially the collection of paintings, from Renaissance masters to impressionists and from the Middle Ages to surrealism, is a joy to behold. In addition, the museum has a huge collection of drawings and prints, and one in particular stayed with me. It was a drawing from the prison series by Piranesi. It’s just one of those things that speak to your subconscious in a way that only great works of art can.
Speaking of great works of art, I had a delightful aesthetic experience of an entirely different nature in the museum café. Two, actually. The first one was a visit to the toilet. You may think that’s nothing special, but in this case, the restroom is actually one big art object in a pleasant green colour, designed by Joep van Lieshout (you can see a picture on this page). This turns the otherwise mundane event of emptying one’s bladder into an adventure, believe it or not.
The second was a matter of taste. Apart from the coffee, which was excellent and served with a piece of nougat, there was something else. Something out of this world. A piece of chocolate cake. Now, I’m quite fond of chocolate, and I wouldn’t quickly say no if you offered me a piece of it, but this was something else. What a great cake. Actually, it was a chocolate truffle cake, so that makes it even better. I guess.
But the best was yet to come. There’s an exhibition going on by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, called Notion Motion. Now, I don’t usually go for those modern minimalistic (read: nonsensical) works of art, and this looked a lot like that… at first glance. When you look closer however, it becomes apparent that Eliasson cleverly plays with the viewer, making you interact with the huge art installations and leaving you trying to figure out just how he does it. What at first looks like stupid video art turns out to be a cleverly designed installation using only light and water, which you, the viewer, can influence in many cases. It’s truly something to experience, but you have to hurry, since the exhibition will end October 17.
I ended my day with a walk through this. I actually had to look twice… no, thrice, and maybe even more times, to make sure it was actually an exhibition. It really looked like a part of the museum that was under construction. I read the accompanying description, and when I reached the word ‘dada’, I figured that it was art after all. It was. Of sorts. It was fun to walk through one time, feeling a bit like Alice in Wonderland, but at the same time you wonder why this is art and that is not. Maybe that’s the whole idea.
In any case, if you ever find yourself in Rotterdam, the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is one of those locations you absolutely must see. The daring combination of both traditional and modern art ensures anyone can have a great time there, and if you like just one of those two before you go in, you just might come out liking the other one as well, if only a little bit.