Before the world turned upside-down, one of my favourite things was spending a morning or afternoon strolling around a museum. Serendipitously picking an exhibition according to the mood of the day: oh, those were the days! Soaking up inspiration, immersing myself in perspectives different than my own, enriching the imagination, all of it in a public space, and in close proximity to people. March 2020 is the year of the virtual tour – yes, March was a whole year, – and technology the provider of all essentials goods, our dose of Vitamin Art included. On this post, I’m introducing you to five museum-from-home experiences made in Amsterdam. One of them has helped me better understand the big C from a scientific standpoint and, what’s best, it also debunks those fake-news your uncle is spreading on Facebook.
“There are things I got to tell you. All the things I’ve seen” said photographer Ed van der Elsken. Let’s start with him.
1 >> ED VAN DER ELSKEN | Camera in Love – Stedelijk Museum
A retrospective of works by Ed Van der Elsken, who is considered the most relevant Dutch photographer of the 20th century, is an obvious first pick. This man documented the city of Amsterdam like no other but this virtual tour at the Contemporary Art Museum starts in 1959 Japan. Coincidentally, one of the first things I ever wrote on here was about another Van der Elsken exhibition, which has introduced me to the recent History of our city, and greatly fuelled my fascination with it. That blog post will take you on a tour of the Municipal Archives where you can further explore the artist’s body of work on Amsterdam.
2 >> JAN STEEN | The Merry Family – Rijksmuseum
If you live in The Netherlands you may have heard the expression “een huishouden van Jan Steen”. If you were born here indeed you have. On this video, the head of painting and sculpture of the Rijksmuseum tells us about The Merry Family, a 350 year-old painting which sits at the museum’s gallery of honor. Beware: your life in confinement may or may not reflect the spirit of “a household of Jan Steen”. There is much to learn not only from the National Museum’s YouTube channel, but from their app as well, which I invite you to download. You’ll get to see the highlights of this institution and plan your next visit in-person.
3 >> DIGITAL ARCHIVES | FOAM
The Photography Museum of Amsterdam is the one I have frequented more often throughout the years, and that’s probably because of their emphasis in stimulating emerging artists, while also showing iconic names, like the recent retrospective they did on Brassaï. FOAM is giving free access to the digital archives of their renown magazine until April 21. After that, you can dive into #foamathome, a series of talks with artists in IGTV format, that you can best watch from your phone.
4 >> HEDEN VAN HET SLAVERNIJVERLEDEN | Tropenmuseum
The Dutch Transatlantic slave trade came to an end in 1863, but its profound repercussions extend over time. In order to understand our role in current racial dynamics it is essential that we learn from our shared History. “The Afterlives Of Slavery” is an exhibition hosted by the Tropenmuseum, that presents historical artifacts of slavery and the resistance against it, books from the Black Archives, photos from protests, and more. The Tropenmuseum is an ethnographic a museum of world cultures and a must‑visit anno 2020.
5 >> VIRUSES: OF VITAL IMPORTANCE | Artis Micropia
Micropia, adjacent to the Artis Zoo, has been my most recent discovery museum-wise. It is a fascinating space dedicated to Microbiology, an invisible world in which humans are mere visitors. If this sentence strikes you as odd, check out the video below. You’ll learn about how microbes are essential for all forms of life, to the point that they can stand as a solution for our environmental problems, a topic you can explore here. If you don’t speak Dutch, here’s an article in English where everything will start to make sense.
Micropia’s blog has a couple of posts that help us make sense of the pandemic that has changed our way of life in 2020. They’re written in such simple language that they’re accessible even to Science illiterates like me – nothing short of public service. Click here to learn about what coronaviruses are and how they break out. In this other post you can find a clear summary of scientific papers that debunk the myth that the big C could have been created in a laboratory.