Amsterdam — By Marianne Crone on September 23, 2010 at 11:55 pm
Filed under: featuredarticle2, museum, Restaurants, Restaurants & Bars, Shopping, top-feature

Museum Quarter and the Big Three

Amsterdam’s big three – Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art – showcase the brilliance of Dutch masters, modern art and impressionists. Add Amsterdam’s Concert Hall, throw in a high-end shopping street or two and you have the Museum Quarter, Amsterdam’s most prestigious neighborhood.

Museum Quarter is the area around Museum Square and only a-ten minute walk from bustling Leidseplein. The district is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city. Grand mansions line the streets and especially the houses bordering Vondelpark are very popular among the well-heeled. Fashionistas trot up and down PC Hooftstraat, the Champs-Élysées of Amsterdam.

Rijksmuseum

SOAK UP CULTURE

Head straight to the museum’s permanent exhibition; The Highlights of the Golden Age, showing works of art of one of the most glorious periods in Dutch painting. The exhibition includes Rembrandt’s best-known work: the Night Watch. Observe how Vermeer’s Kitchen Maid pours milk from a jug into a bowl. What I like about this painting is the play of light and shadow. All paintings in the exhibition have been meticulously cleaned. The now vivid colors seem just to be dry. Every touch of the brush is visible. You will need about two hours to see the fourteen exhibition rooms, only one-tenth of the museum’s available space. Major renovations are taking place and reopening of the Rijksmuseum is planned for 2013.

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Rijksmuseum is located at Jan Luykenstraat 1 (map). Opening hours – 9 am – 6 pm. Admission €12.50.

Amsterdam’s most popular museum with more 1.5 million visitors per year exhibits, besides a varied collection of Van Gogh works, also paintings of his contemporaries – Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin and Henri Toulouse Lautrec. Van Gogh’s works are grouped into four categories. Dark earthly colors dominate in his early works. When in Paris, he saw how the impressionists dealt with light and color and he followed their example. During his stay in Arles and Saint-Rémy his use of colors intensified. The Yellow House is my favorite because of the contrasting colors and the details – a sunflower yellow house against the clarity of the blue sky, a steam locomotive and train passing across a bridge in the background, two persons sitting round a table and two women and a child walking away. The last two years of his life, Van Gogh lived in Auvers where he painted swirling fields, ominous skies and menacing crows showing his deteriorating mental state.

Van Gogh Museum is located at Paulus Potterstraat 7 (map). Opening hours – daily 10 am – 6 pm, Friday until 10 pm. Admission €14.

Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art

The museum is often overlooked in favor of the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum. The museum’s modern art collection is awe-inspiring. It comprises works of Casimir Malevich, Matisse, Picasso, Newman, Rauschenberg and Warhol. Works of art of The Style and Cobra Movement appeal to many modern art lovers. An overview of European and American trends in art since 1950 often evokes an aha-experience. My favorite spot is the coffee bar. Karel Appel transformed this place into a three-dimensional painting. Everything, from door knobs to wall plugs is part of a colorful mural depicting playing children and animal figures.

Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art is located at Paulus Potterstraat 13 (map). Opening hours – Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm, Thursday until 10 pm, closed on Monday. Admission €10.

Crowned by a golden lyre and watched over by busts of Beethoven, Bach and Sweelinck, late nineteenth century colonnaded Concert Hall has near-perfect acoustics for orchestral concerts. The program is not exclusively classical; the theatre also stages pop and jazz events. Equally popular are the Sunday morning and Saturday matinee and Wednesday lunch concerts.

Concert Hall / Concertgebouw is located at Concertgebouwplein 2 (map). Sunday Concerts are from 11 am – noon. Price €16.50 and includes tea or coffee. Wednesday Lunch Concert are from noon – 1 pm. Admission is free.

PEOPLE WATCH

Museum Square, the wide open space behind the Rijksmuseum is an urban oasis. This grassy spot is popular with joggers, dog-walkers and picknickers in summer. In winter ice-skaters skate up and down the artificial ice-rink. In all seasons, tourists and locals clamber up and around the giant red and white letters of the IAMsterdam logo. This two-meter tall (6.5 ft) and twenty-four meter (26 yards) long wall of letters is permanently located at Museum Square, opposite the Rijksmuseum. A second set pops up in unexpected places in the center of Amsterdam.

Shoebaloe, PC Hooftstraat

SHOP AND SPEND

Are you feeling out of touch with new trends and haven’t you got the slightest clue as to what’s the new autumn color, whether to go in furs or bomber jackets or if a diamond studded necklace is the thing or just too much bling? All you need to do is walk up and down the PC Hooftstraat, or PC (sounds like pay say) for the answer.

The Louis Vuitton flagship store (PC 65) is famous for its brown and tan checked patterned travel bags and trunks. If you are not the travelling type, check out ready-to-wear, shoes or jewelry collection. A waft of fragrant smells greets you when you enter the Chanel store (PC 66). The woody-aromatic fragrance of Blue de Chanel, the latest men fragrance is daring and lingers for hours. Beside perfumes, you will find cosmetics and cutting edge fashion. Shopping at the PC never ends. Marc Cain, Max Mara, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Hermes and Ralph Lauren rub shoulders with Nespresso Boutique, Café de Posthoorn and Apollo Museum Hotel. The PC Hooftstraat is the epitome of prestige and fashion where to be seen is even more important than to see.

Shopping hours: Mondays 1 pm – 6 pm, Tuesday – Saturday 9 am – 6 pm, Thursday until 9 pm.

EAT AND DRINK

A meal at Café Loetje, Vermeerstraat 52 (map), is a culinary treat. Their specialty is Loetjes filet of steak served with French fries. The meat is so tender that you can cut it with a spoon. Try traditional semolina pudding cream smothered in raspberry sauce for dessert. A carafe of house wine makes the meal complete.

Pasta Tricolor, PC Hooftstraat 52 (map), is Italy at its best and where your meal won’t break the bank. The vegetarian pizza is one of the best in town. The crust is crunchy and topped with a medley of Mediterranean vegetables. Their home-made lasagna is creamy and tasty. Or maybe you opt for a Panini sandwich primavera, mozzarella tomato and basil. Whatever you try, the taste is undeniably Italian.

Photo credits:
Rijksmuseum & Stedelijk Museum – Marianne Crone

Shoebaloe & flickr

Tags: featuredarticle2, museum, Restaurants, Restaurants & Bars, Shopping, top-feature


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