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Scaled-down Rijksmuseum unexpected success

7 June 2008 - Due to a large renovation, only a small collection of 'Masterpieces' is on show at the Rijksmuseum. Remarkably, the scaled-down exhibition is at least as successful as the museum was before the renovation, notes John Vinocur of the International Herald Tribune.

The museum was scheduled to reopen this year, but due to delays this has been postponed to 2012 or 2013. There have been concerns about the impact on tourism, especially with the Stedelijk Museum and the Maritime Museum being renovated as well.

During the renovation, the Rijksmuseum has a small exhibition of 400 Masterpieces. Surprisingly, the exhibition attracts almost as many visitors as the entire museum before the renovation started.

And visitors are satisfied. According to Vinocur, large museums like the Rijksmuseum tend to intimidate visitors, instilling a sense of 'gotta-get-outta-here-NOW' on them.

The smaller scale of the current exhibition would lead to new discoveries and surprises, writes Vinocur, such as C.C. van Wieringen's painting of the Dutch naval victory over the Spanish at Gibraltar (above). "A Spanish ship explodes, and in the joy of the Dutch victory - the 17th century knew no shame about military success - a drum, a broom, a ladder and plenty of bodies are blasted into the sky".

After the renovation, the museum will have to scale up again, managing director Jan Willem Sieburgh told the International Herald Tribune, "otherwise we'd be selling the public short". But the museum will try to design its exhibitions in a less intimidating way.

Interestingly, the Stedelijk Museum has also been quite successful at showing small exhibitions at the Post CS building during the first part of its renovation.

Source: International Herald Tribune. Image: Rijksmuseum


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