Getting cultural in Amsterdam

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July 18th 2009
Published: July 18th 2009
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I visited the 3 famous museums these past 2 days: Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh museum and Anne Frank Huis museum. In Rijksmesuem, I came face-to-face with the works of Masters such as Vemeer (Pregnant woman, Milkmaid etc.) and Rembrandt (Jewish bride, Night watch etc.) The Rijksmuseum is currently under renovation, so only about 200 works are being displayed in 14 rooms. The majority of the works are kept out of sight. What I also found interesting was the section of the Rijksmuseum where it introduced Dutch's once imperial might, its naval history, center of trade, finance and commerce, and its conflicts with the Spanish and the English fleets. Upon reflection, I developed the hypothesis that a sea-faring country, with developed capitalist systems, seem also to correlate with open, tolerant and liberal societies. (Dutch, British, and to some extent French?) However, that left the Spanish an odd case out. Van Gogh museum hosts a large collection of Van Gogh paintings. Again I watched with inspiration the famous works of Van Gogh which I could only see on print media before. Anne Frank Huis (Ann Frank House) was the house of a little Jewish girl, whose family along with 5 other people, hid in Peter Krugler, a Dutch jam-maker's attic for 2 years, in order to avoid persecution by the Germans. She put her observations and thoughts during the time, in the now famous Anne Frank's diary. Through her diary, one could get a glimpse of her most intimate thoughts- sometime poignant, sometime hopeful, and the suffering, tribulations and terrors during the German occupation. Unfortunately, their hiding place was eventually found and she died in Auschwitz. Her dad survived the German persecution and published her diary. Coming from Canada, where many Canadians, along with the Americans and the allies, fought and liberated this part of Europe from the evils of the Third Reich, it is moving to re-experience a part of our common history. Never again.


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