Amsterdam–August 6

Next morning was rainy, and we decided to return to the Hermitage complex to explore some of the galleries we’d noticed the day before, none requiring reservations or as crowded the Rijksmuseum.  The City Museum provided a graphic history of the town which helped make sense of the  technological achievement of reclamation of swamp and seawater that started in the thirteenth century.  It provided a system of defensive moats, a transportation grid allowing easy movement of goods and people and access to river and ocean trade routes that led to the 17th century Dutch Golden Age. It also made the city, like Venice, an attraction for tourists.


Rather than glorifying the Dutch cultural heritage, most of the exhibits emphasized the brutality and injustice suffered by the victims of empire and their efforts to survive, witness and protest.


A labyrinth of rooms contained dozens of diorama displays of dolls and sets illustrating life in the Dutch colonies lovingly constructed by Rita Maasdamme, who grew up on the Carribean island of  Aruba and later moved to Amsterdam.



Their crude folklorish character strengthened their impact, contrasting the  celebration of Dutch power we’d seen the day before in the Rijksmuseum (Imperial museum).

After wading through the Hermitage’s  flooded courtyard for lunch at its upscale tea room, we left through a rear exit that opened to the Holocaust Memorial  containing 102,000 bricks, each inscribed with the name of a victim.

Next on our itinerary was the Museum of the Canals, housed in a renovated  17th century mansion at the junction of two waterways.


It featured another set of  dioramas only slightly more sophisticated than those of Rita Maasdamme’s, unfolding the history of the City’s infrastructure,


along with a photo exhibit entitled “Amsterdam is Crumbling.”

At the tram stop on the way back to the hotel, we marvelled at the Oude Kerk–the old church–completed in 1306.

Leave a Reply