Thursday, 4 April 2013

Groningen Museum

Arriving on the train from Amsterdam this morning I went straight to the Groningen Museum. This made sense as the museum is right in front of the station, lying on an island in the canal that runs in front of the station and circumambulates the old part of the city, effectively turning the whole of the old city into an island.

Groningen Train Station

It also made sense because I could leave my heavy bag in the cloakroom and so didn't have to walk round with it for a few hours. I'm only in Groningen for 3 days and so only have my daypack but it's still heavy to be lugging around with me all day. The hostel is on the far side of the town, only a 20 min walk from the station but still ... and I couldn't check in till after 3pm anyway.

It cost a hefty 13 euros to get into the museum and I briefly toyed with the idea of getting a museum year card at 49 euros but worked out I probably wouldn't get my money's worth. When I used to come to the Netherlands more often I always had a  museum card and it was so much nicer not having to worry about the cost when going to museums.

I had no idea what to expect from the very modern multi-coloured building (a complete contrast to the old ornate train station opposite) so hoped I wasn't to be disappointed. I wasn't.

The current special exhibition is on Nordic Art and blew my mind. The colours! The light! The impact! I had never heard of any of the artists but now have a few new favourites.There were artists representing all five countries which are considered Nordic - Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland. I spent well over an hour walking from room to room trying to take it all in.

Yin Xiuzhen 'Weapon' 2003-2007 

Another exhibition which caught my attention was the a display of weapons hanging from the ceiling of one of the rooms, all at different heights. Each 'weapon' had a kitchen knife tip but the hilt was made from old clothes; stretched jumpers and the like. It was all rather colourful and effective. Here's the blurb:

Resembling darts that appear to be heading directly toward their target, these colourful objects look not only dangerous but also comical. On the one hand, the threat is reinforced by the knives that are attached to the spear-like objects, but the fact that these are primarily kitchen knives, in conjunction with the feature that they are made of second-hand clothes, emphasizes their domestic nature. The 'weapons' evoke the idea of TV masts, which have similar form and function all over the world. To Yin, they are the ultimate weapon. After all, they control the flow of information like gigantic filters.

How deep and meaningful is that?

I sat in the theatre for an hour watching a Michael Palin film about Danish artist Hammersvoi. I'd never come across this programme before let alone the artist so learnt quite a lot.

The rest of the museum I wasn't so interested in. The regular collection, which was actually quite good, couldn't excite me after the Nordic Art exhibition. I also found a basement room full of crockery. China displays never really interest me at the best of times and this one didn't either. What I did like about it was the way it had been displayed. The glass cabinets were all shrouded by a maze of net curtains. It really was like a maze and got quite disorientating walking around trying to see everything and never knowing what was going to be behind the next curtain. In one space the exhibits were actually in the floor with a layer of glass over them. I think it was meant to be representative of how some of these exhibits have been 'discovered' but as there was no information it was difficult to be sure. 

Finally I saw an exhibition of Russian women artists which at another time I probably would have really enjoyed but by this time I was all museum-ed out and had achey legs and an empty stomach. I retired to the restaurant for an expensive panini and a cup of coffee before wandering round town and finding my hostel.

Here are some of the amazing Nordic Art paintings I saw: