Some people think of museums as stuffy old buildings unsuited for anyone younger than 60. They see these facilities as quiet warehouses for relics of the past – unassuming, unchanging and above all, boring.
It is my pleasure to inform those who come to Amsterdam with such preconceived notions that they should be prepared to have their minds blown wide open and their ideas changed forever.
On the evening of November 1, 2008, Amsterdam’s museums will throw open their doors, cast off any pretense and let revelers in. In what could be described as the city’s most highbrow mass party, 42 museums are participating in the 9th annual Museumnacht, translated in English as Museum Night and known by locals as N8.
A little historical interlude: The first long night of museums took place in Berlin in 1997, known in German as the Lange Nacht der Museen. The museum night was so well received that the concept has spread to approximately 120 cities across Europe, including Prague, Budapest, Zurich, Austria and of course, Amsterdam. Museumnacht now occurs annually on the first Saturday of November and has become an absolute must-see for locals.
From 7pm to 2am, the participating museums will host a variety of themed events. Two of the biggest museums have announced their plans already. First, the renowned Rijksmuseum will unveil “For the love of God,” Damien Hirst’s infamous diamond bedazzled skull. There is some controversy over whether or not it actually sold for its asking price of an outrageous 50 million pounds. Love it or hate it, the skull is a major talking piece and Museumnacht will mark its world premiere and will be displayed with Hirst’s personal selection of the museum’s 17th century art. Second, The Van Gogh Museum, a 125 year old treasure with an exhaustive collection of Vincent Van Gogh’s work, will host music performances by Giovanca Ostiana, Betty en Billie’s Beatboutique as well as special audiovisual installations. Each of the participating museums will offer something unique, be it food and drink, performances or special exhibitions.
Museumnacht has a festival feel to it because of the special access granted to ticket holders. A ticket gives you free access to all GVB trams, buses, metros, night buses and even special museum boats that will snake their way their the city canals. The tickets are valid for twelve hours, from 6pm to 6am. Clubs will also get into the spirit and Museumnacht ticket holders are entitled to discounts on entry fees at the after party. Because there are so many museums that could be covered over such a short period of time, you are allowed to use your tickets once more, anytime before December 31st, as an entrance pass for any of the participating museums. Considering a normal adult entrance pass to the Rjiksmuseum costs 10 Euros, the Museumnacht pass is well worth the 17 Euro presale price tag (the day of price will be 20 Euros, including service charge).
Tickets can be purchased online until the 22nd at www.ticketservice.nl. For information in English, you can visit http://www.n8.nl/2008/english. It’s important to note that most of the events are catered to a Dutch speaking audience and it can be difficult to find information in English. Try to look for the Amsterdam Weekly, an English language paper that will print and distribute their Museumnacht program on October 30th to local clubs, cafes and popular spots around town.
Museumnacht offers you the chance to peruse a Rembrandt or Van Gogh, drink in hand, listening to the beats of a performance in the distant gallery wing, thinking of what amazing things you’ll see next. What could be less stuffy than that?
Photo of Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam originally posted by Kent Wang