The New Rijksmuseum
Architects, demonstrators, building supervisors and a flamboyant museum director lead the spectator along the tragicomic ups and downs during the renovation of the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum.More info
Oeke Hoogendijk spent a decade completing her epic documentary about the multi-million Euro renovation of Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. She acknowledges she felt withdrawal symptoms after finally completing a project which took up such a large part of her life.
As her film makes clear, the renovation of the museum was anything but straightforward. Costs soared, senior staff left the organisation. The Dutch Cyclist's Union protested against the original plans on the grounds that the building work would cause them to make a detour.
Now, Hoogendijk says the controversy is all but forgotten. Visitors have been flocking to the museum in record numbers, and even President Obama popped in. Everyone is happy, even Amsterdam's notoriously stubborn cyclists. However, if you want to be reminded of the 10 years of stress and grief the renovation involved, her film is the place to start.
The New Rijksmuseum – The Film will be released in 36 cinemas by Cinema Delicatessen next month and is bound to jog memories. When the doc (also made as a TV series) was finished and the museum re-opened, Hoogendijk felt at first as if she had "lost" her job. "It's like a love affair," she switches metaphors. "If you want to get over somebody, you find a new one." That's why she has already started a new doc.The latest Hoogendijk project, Treasures of the Crimea, promises to be every bit as fraught as its predecessor. "It's a complicated story, but I will try to be brief," the director declares.
The subject matter this time is 'The Crimea – Gold and the Secrets of the Black Sea', an exhibition held last summer at Amsterdam's archaeological Allard Pierson Museum. During the time the Crimean treasures were on display, relations between the Ukraine and Russia fell to an all-time low. "This whole collection cannot be sent back to the Crimea. Ukraine says it is state property, 'Give it back to us. Send it to Kiev.'"
Russia, though, insists the artefacts should be sent to the museums that originally displayed them. At present, the treasures are being stored at a secret location in Amsterdam. "I am trying to imagine what it would be like if we sent our Nightwatch by Rembrandt to a museum somewhere and then learned we're not going to get it back because of the political dangers."