On Sunday, July 15, 2007, I visited the Rijkesmuseum with my classmate, Ami, from New York.
Even though most of the museum is closed for renovations, they still have a large exhibit of the famous works and masterpieces. This was by far the BEST museum I have been to yet in Amsterdam. I liked the mix of art and history. Because I do not know much about art techniques, I found the optional audiotour particularly helpful in learning not only more about the particular masterpieces, but also about various techniques that made these paintings special.
The museum features works by many famous dutch painters, including Rembrandt and Vermeer. The painting featured in this post is Vermeer's Milkmaid. (His other very famous work, "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" is at a museum in the Hague, not at the Rijkesmuseum.) I particularly liked the still life paintings that looked so real they seemed to be photographs. Rather than the very abstract work of Van Gogh, which never could be confused with a photograph, many of the paintings had such remarkable use of light to seem to be three-dimensional.
Along with learning about the masterpieces as art, the museum uses the art to teach visitors about the history of the Netherlands. You may not be aware of this fact, but because of the Dutch's naval power, they were a major colonial and trade powerhouse in the late 17th Century, dominating the British and Spanish empires. Which brings me to the title of this post. When I play "Civilization"* on my computer, being the Dutch empire is not one of the player options. As much as I find "Civilization" historically accurate, I think this is one of the game's major flaws. Given my addition to Civilization is fueled by my desire to rule the world, I think it'd be easier if I could be the nation that first dominated the seas and currently is the seat of the International Court of Justice.
Official museum website (including pictures of the collection): http://www.rijksmuseum.nl/index.jsp
*Civilization is a computer game wherein one is the ruler of a nation (many options available: England, Spain, United States, China, India, Incas, Mayan, etc - just not Dutch) and it is your job to develop your society: militarily, economically, socially, scientifically - before other nations and also to defend yourself from being conquered by those nations. My friend Angelee is to blame for my current Civilization addiction because she is the one who introduced me to the game. It is worse than heroin.