In 2003, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the most important museum in all of the Netherlands, closed for a major renovation. The plan was to reopen in 2008, but what was to take five years took 10, with a budget that just kept on growing. Filmmaker Oeke Hoogendijk was able to follow this exciting, difficult and sometimes painfully funny process with the camera from behind closed museum doors. In beautiful images supported by powerful music, she captured the building as it was stripped to a bleak carcass, and as it gradually retrieved the old grandeur of yesteryear. We watch from up close as various curators prepare the layout of their new rooms with tremendous passion and dedication. We follow the caretaker, who looks at the building as if it were his child and protects it against intruders, and the architects who constantly have to adjust their designs. And we follow the museum directors Ronald de Leeuw and Wim Pijbes, who must deal with financial setbacks, bureaucracy and squabbles – not to mention the activist cyclists. In the end, 400 hours of material was edited down to a single film that takes the viewer to the apotheosis: the reopening in 2013.
Gijs van de Westelaken for Column Film
Sander Snoep, Gregor Meerman