05 April 2008

national museum weekend

this weekend, in amsterdam and the rest of the netherlands, is national museum weekend. amsterdam takes great pride in their museums and the fact that the city has more museums than any other city in the world. so, one weekend a year many of the museums offer free admission, or at very least prices are cut in half. i had been planning on taking advantage of this all week. i had my list and was ready to go. however, after last nights festivities (i.e. too many beers, and too little food...) we didn't quite make it out of the house as early as i would have liked...kind of a reoccurring theme these days. then, as we were about to head out, mohammad, who knew of our plans, called to see if he could join us. how could we turn that down?! he laughed at the idea of being anywhere by noon, and suggested 2(ish) instead. such are the french. ;-)

we arrived at the same bar from last night, the klondike, and waited...and waited. mohommed arrived shortly before 3. the weather was good, and the coffee was even better so i didn't really care. i was just happy to have a friend come along. anyway, he arrived, had a cup of coffee, and then we left. because of the time, i had to cut the three museums i was planning on visiting down to just one...so much for saving a buck!

after a long walk along keizersgracht, we arrived at the museum geelvinck hilopen huis, which turned out to be a very unique museum from the other i've been to so far. the first exhibit was not formal rooms, but instead works of art from holy russia; stunning works of religious art painted in golds and reds, some with impressive ornate metal embellishments. they were all painted on thick wood, but the colors were spectacular.

then, in order to reach the main part of the house we had to walk through the biggest and most beautiful formal gardens i've seen outside of france's loire valley chateaux. in addition to the greenery, trees, and flowers, there were statues, benches and a gorgeous fountain in the middle. surrounding the square garden on all sides are beautiful 17th and 18th century canal house. so pretty! in the house, the museum features four large rooms, each decorated in differently styles with authentic pieces from the era it was representing. there is a gorgeous library room, a formal dinning room, two formal sitting rooms.

after our tour we went down to the gallery area, where they often hold concerts and recitals. to my delight, coffee, tea, wine, ad vodka (!!!!) were being served and enjoyed right there. so, scott, mohammad, and I had afternoon coffee, tea, and biscuits in fabulous antique chairs is a room filled with russion tapestries for sale...only 100,000 euro. my favorite was only 50,000...!! also, the volunteer serving was a wealth of information about the museum as well as the netherlands as a whole. we chatted with him and a couple other museum-goers for at least 45 minutes. as we were getting readdy to leave, he told us that on our way out, to sneak upstairs to the second floor so that we could get a better view of the gardens from the terrace. what a great tip...the garden was a magnificent sight from up above. it made me want to go back to france!

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