How many people can claim they live just around the corner from a world class museum? Not too many, I guess, but who cares? I am one of them! And that is exactly why I was one of the first visitors to the newly opened exhibition at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen with the exciting name The Collection as Time Machine. I have a zillion things on my head this month and so I hope you forgive me that I didn’t take any time to do my homework before I went there. Not that it matters, I suppose. I like most, if not all, the temporary exhibitions at the Boijmans and I get to see them for free with my trusty Museumkaart. For the last few years, I’ve skipped the part of the museum that houses the permanent collection. In my memory, it’s been the same ever since primary school – all my fellow Rotterdammers of a certain age will certainly remember going to the Boijmans once a year on a class outing and then almost falling asleep while sitting in an extremely uncomfortable tiny foldable stool. But I digress.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that The Collection as Time Machine wasn’t just any temporary re-ordering of a museum collection or some sneak preview of the new Depot the Boijmans is building – but rather a brand-spanking new permanent presentation. And let me tell you free of charge, it was so totally FACKING amazing that I am seriously contemplating going back for seconds later this week.
First, the concept of the time machine just works. Although I must admit I thought I got lost when I went straight from the Middle Ages to the 1960’s. Later on though, when I realized that this is exactly what curator Carel Blotcamp had in mind, I totally got into it. You’re supposed to travel back and forth in art history! The non-linear order in which the various ages were presented really gave me a new appreciation of periods in art history that I usually tended to skip. I mean, how many late medieval religious paintings of Mary with child can the human eye realistically take in? A lot more than I always used to think, that’s how many!
And then secondly, the colors. Oh my god, the colors. Each time zone has a different color, light for modern art and darker for old masters. The specific shades come from the palette that artist Peter Struycken developed specially for Museum Boijmans van Beuningen. I was especially smitten by the violet that was used for the oldest, religious artworks. “It will be very beautiful,” the museum predicted in its press release. True that!
Finally, let’s hear it for what must be one of my favorite museum displays EVER. The admittedly shitty Instagram video I posted of the goosebumps inducing paintings of blind children by David Salle – accompanied by the dulcet tones of Andy Williams, no less – really doesn’t do them any justice. In fact, the eerie atmosphere made me think of the Dimore presentation earlier this year in Milan with a strikingly similar combination of haunting pieces of art combined with melancholy music. I feel a trend coming on. Anyway, I guess you have to check it out for yourself along with the rest of The Collection as Time Machine. You won’t regret it.
For now, let me leave you with some of the photo’s I took while traveling in my time machine. True to form, I will present them in a non-chronological order.