Signs will point you to the Anne Frank Museum, and you will know you have arrived when you see the “human snake” entrance line. (See earlier post – The Line Dance) The outside line continued inside the building. No photos were allowed once inside.
Her story is bittersweet…
The young innocent girl, a victim of a violent and cruel world. She is the infamous Anne Frank; everyone in the world must know her name. Once a private residence, then warehouse, and now a museum along a quirky row of homes by the Prinsengracht canal.
We started in the warehouse and walked up a steep, narrow stairway into the hidden portion of the home known as the secret annex. It wasn’t an attic, as I had originally presumed, but the rear portion of the house. It was very generous in size, doubtless never seen by the tax assessors because it was not visible from the front due to the closeness of homes. Although we were in the authentic location, the atmosphere and appearance was somewhat staged.
Gone was their furniture which was removed at the time of their arrest. Photographs, postcards and magazine pages were pasted on the wall. The light was muted to resemble the blackout curtains and closed shutters.
As visitors we could feel the emotion of whispered voices and closed off windows. Then, their fears were realized when an unknown (still to this day) neighbor turned them over to the police.
Anne with her mother and sister died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, while her father, Otto, survived. I find that terribly fascinating, or maybe puzzling. Another factor I have trouble with; her father edited parts of Anne’s diary, and the biggest aspect…that he had dealings with the Nazis. Thought provoking!
My sole purpose was for educational reasons; to see the house, the washroom, original stone counter, and sink. Everything historical appeals to me. I did not buy the book or other souvenirs. I believe the story is true. It is a huge money making wheel, and a memorial to an icon. I found a connection here with free speech, and religious freedom. However, there are many other sad stories of victims that were never merchandised.
As you approach on a rainy day, the Rijksmuseum is a bit foreboding in exterior appearance. Once past the ancient facade, there are large plate glass windows overlooking modern marble staircases, with a soaring roof that shows off the 10-year-long museum renovation.
This all provided a welcoming open atmosphere in the entrance lobby. The line for ticketing was daunting but appeared to be moving quickly. By chance the fellow behind us was toting the same camera I had. His attire bespoke a professional and using the camera was a conversation starter. I engaged him about a setting for the lighting in the museum. He enthusiastically gave me a 10-minute camera course which made the wait effortless and was much appreciated.
Banquet Still Life by Adriaen van Utrecht (c.1644) oil on canvas
Most people are here for the main attraction of 17th century art, we were mainly interested in modern and abstract art (also housed in the Stadelisk museum, behind the Rijksmuseum). You can’t see it all in one visit, you have to plan on returning. I was curious to see what was on display because my last trip to AMS was during the makeover, and it was closed. There was a small wing of early 20th century art which was sure to contain some pieces of interest.
Femmes, enfants, animaux by Karel Appel (c.1951) oil on canvas
We were immediately impressed with the first hall we entered. The general lighting was subdued, yet the huge Rembrandt painting appeared ten feet high, and was hung on slate grey walls with gilded ceiling cornices, and framed with light grey marble columns.
The paintings were deftly illuminated which made the colors radiate a brilliance. I have to assume that during the renovation they were cleaned and restored, as close to the original state as possible. Now, here in person, they were stunning and unforgettable.
Cocoanuts by René Daniels (c.1950)
We breezed through the other areas. There was furniture, sculptures, jewelry, and anything that one might have as a major interest. I had to see the Dutch artist, Johannes Vermeer.
Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665) by Johannes Vermeer
His style of realism is a joy as some look like photographs:
Girl with a Pearl Earring and the Milkmaid satisfied my art history for the day. We will probably never know this mysterious girl’s name!
The Milkmaid (c. 1658) by Johannes Vermeer
I would love to know what she is making. Maybe just simple bread and soup!
We were on a mission, and I did not want to get side tracked. I was tired and had to get to the 20th Century room, which seemed at the other end of the museum, on the top floor. Chairs have always been a particular passion for me. They hold you when you work, when you relax, and when you eat.
In retrospect, there were maybe 100 – 200 items on display: furniture, sculptures, paintings, and a 1917 FK 23 Bantam biplane.
Passenger seat for the Fokker F.XII and F.XVII made of aluminum, canvas and imitation leather, 1930-1933. This seat was used on the Amsterdam-Batavia service by KLM.
There were pieces that are commonly seen in magazine articles such as travel lithographs. The most captivating piece was an early airline seat which most closely resembled a beach lounge chair with tubular construction. I was lost in thought on its economy of weight, range of movement, and how a passenger would ride in such a contraption. Functional architecture, and advertising, are areas that intrigue me, and these were more than adequately on display.
The Rijksmuseum certainly is a place to see, analyze and appreciate. We will be back another time to this dynamic city just for the tulips!
It was now time for a well deserved break! Any place will do…
I just love it that animals are accepted anywhere in AMS. Don’t you?