I’ll go out on a sturdy limb here, and start by saying I think most large European cities are over-saturated with museums. Museums and churches. Since neither Diego nor I had any interest in touring the latter, we opted to check out a couple museums instead.
Besides, when it comes to places of worship, there are only so many ornate altars and beautifully painted ceilings I can stare at before I can’t tell any of them apart. I couldn’t tell you what any of the Saints are known for, and I’m still not really sure of the difference between Catholicism and Christianity. Diego regularly makes me feel like a bit of an alien for it, but religion has just never played a role in my life. Back to museums…
Amsterdam offers its visitors a plethora of artistic and cultural collections to enjoy, but since I don’t consider myself to be a connoisseur of either, there wasn’t much pressure to pick the ‘best’ exhibitions.
To get in a solid range of content, we ended up visiting the grandiose Rijksmuseum, the architecturally impressive EYE Film Museum, and the wonderfully quirky Sexmuseum. (Photos at bottom of page)
Before setting off for the Rijksmuseum, I wolfed down a sizeable stack of pancakes sprinkled with icing sugar for breakfast (aren’t I just the image of staying healthy while travelling?), and Diego thoughtfully munched on avocado toast. We hopped off the tram in front of the Rijsmuseum at an ungodly hour, with the intention of beating the swarms of tourists who flock to the attraction during summer months.
This renowned museum gives off an air of majesty with its intricately decorated exterior, skyward-reaching towers, and surrounding manicured gardens. After checking our bags and purchasing tickets, the cool, buttery British voice of my audio guide escorted me up the first set of stairs, to begin the tour.
Most of the time I find museums quite dull. I don’t always have the patience to read little informational blurbs, and even when I do, few words sink in. Sometimes it’s all just too pretentious. Unless there’s some great colourful flashing light show or a basket of puppies to play with (please let me know if you’ve been to a museum with the latter), my attention tends to wane and evaporate. What kept me surprisingly engaged at the Rijksmuseum was the technical artistic skill of the items on display, and their sheer age! I have bus tickets from 2008 kicking around in the bottom of old purses in my closet that are looking far worse for wear than the works of art we saw. The very knowledgeable voice chattering away in my ear also made wandering through the grand exhibits much more informative and impressive.
There’s something about very old things that gives me shivers and ignites my imagination. A small ceramic teapot from the year 1758 stares out at me from behind the walls of its glass case, provoking so many questions: Who owed this little pot? Did sipping tea make them feel happy, content? What did they eat for breakfast, and what were their clothes made of? What was their relationship with their mother like? Who did they love, and what worries kept them up at night?
What would they think if they could see their little bit of houseware today, on display for millions? As the saying goes, if only walls (and old works of art) could speak…
In front of other works, I stood and eyed the brushstrokes with a mask of profound introspection, and thought very deeply about what we might eat for lunch.
(Click on images to enlarge)
Diego – being a somewhat indifferent sightseer – was completely content with my picking and planning out our activities. I do love a good organized spreadsheet, so it worked both ways. The EYE Film Museum was, however, the one thing he did mention wanting to see, so we made a point of visiting.
A short, free ferry ride from Amsterdam Central Station dropped us off nearby the museum. You really can’t miss it. It’s essentially an enormous elongated geometric shape jutting up into the sky at an angle, striking with it’s white exterior. There was a large exhibit on about Martin Scorcese, and I, being whatever the complete opposite of a film junkie is, was totally bored. I think Wolf of Wall Street is the only Scorceses film I’ve seen, so most of the exhibit went right over my head. It was also quite dark, and I was tempted to find a cozy napping spot in a corner somewhere while Diego perused. There weren’t many people around so I probably could have gotten away with it, but I managed to keep my composure and politely glance at old posters and into glass cases.
The lower floor of the museum had a few other exhibits, mostly on the technicalities of film and some historical film equipment. Diego enjoyed the technical stuff, and I had a grand old time playing with a green screen exhibit (see impressive video, titled “Zofia Travels to the Moon, here). That was about it.
(Click on images to enlarge)
Contained in an unassuming little hole in the wall on bustling Damrak street, Amsterdam’s Sexmuseum was a great way to spend an hour or so, not to mention a fantastic deal at only 5 euros. There was no line-up to get in, and the gentleman who gave us our tickets commented enthusiastically on how Diego looked like Jesus. Already off to a great start.
The pure oddity of the Sexmuseum kept me totally interested. Set up inside of what seemed to be a strangely renovated apartment with a glass roof and many random staircases, the whole place had a sticky theme park sort of vibe – but not in a totally unpleasant way. To add to the ambiance, there were sex sound effects piped in to every room.
The first floor (comprised of a few roundabout hallways), offered a series of bizarre ‘stages’ with life-size moving mannequins performing various sexual acts on one another, a bondage display, and a few glass cases of sex-related artifacts (think bottle-openers and earrings with erotic scenes carved into them).
As we climbed flights of stairs to explore other floors, the delightful weirdness continued. We strolled through rooms full of pornographic printed photos ranging from graphic anal fisting to what must have be the oldest collection of black-and-white pornographic photos; smiling women – with petticoats hoisted – and guys who look like the Pringles mascot, getting busy on various beautifully upholstered pieces of furniture. The Sexmuseum really had a knack for displaying things that you probably wouldn’t see anywhere else.
I think I enjoyed the Sexmuseum just as much (if not more) than the prestigious Rijksmuseum, and I’m not too sure what that says about me. Maybe, Hey, I’m a real classy and highly refined lady!
10/10, would recommend, if you’re in the mood for something a bit weird.
(Click on images to enlarge)