Monday, 17 May 2010

Tropenmuseum (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). Bonus: Exploring the Neighborhood.

[Post published by Liviu on Liviu's [in Netherlands] Blog]

There's an old Dutch saying: If it's cloudy and/or raining, go where the sun is, e.g. either go conquer some territories in a tropical area or go to the Tropenmuseum (en: Tropical Museum). Ok, I made it up - there's no such saying, but it's rather funny given the rainy weather that has taken over Amsterdam again.

Tropenmuseum (en: Tropical Museum)
Admission: free for Museumkaart holders. Feel free to check the detailed price list.
Of course, there are lockers at the entrance.
Pictures are allowed - make sure your memory card is empty, 'cause you shall need all the space.

Current exhibitions at Tropenmuseum.

Online collection of Tropenmuseum: feel free o search for various terms, e.g. Africa, music, man, Guinea etc. - I tested terms part of the names of the permanent exhibitions.

Day 1: 9th of May: Tropenmuseum - 2nd floor

I took the elevator to the 2nd floor intending to visit the museum from top down, as the very friendly staff advised me. Indeed, I only stayed at the 2nd floor for about 3 hours - there was a lot to see; in the end, I only made pictures to just a small part of it, leaving the rest for my next visits.

The 2nd floor presents very interesting things.
There are 4 permanent collections:
  1. Latin America & the Caribbean
  2. Africa
  3. Music World
  4. West Asia & North Africa
and 1 temporary collection: Long live the President!

It's worth the time to wander around and look at everything. There are plenty of details written on walls.

As you can see, the collections touch sensible regions in the world, of which most of us know very little. Interestingly, the museum presents their culture in a positive manner, highlighting their strengths, and both their common and different points compared with the European culture.

Examples of interesting things I've learned (a few I can remember now)
  • The Maya, Aztec and Inca were more advanced than I thought
  • The difference between Sunni and Shia - the whole matter regards Ali's death. Although I've provided wikipedia links, I must say that the Tropenmuseum explanation is far shorter, more straightforward and makes more sense.
  • The European culture has a lot in common with the Islamic world, i.e. West Asia & North Africa. Basically, the 2 sides have been for a long time in competition.
All in all, tropical cultures have never been explained to us properly - this was the first time when things made sense (to some extent) to me. Of course, many questions still remain unanswered.

Day 2: 14th of May: Tropenmuseum - 1st floor (part 1)

First, I completed my photo session for the 2nd floor, which took quite a lot of time - ok, I enjoyed looking again at some items. Then I moved down.

1st floor: I only visited the Round and about India exhibition and half of Southeast Asia exhibition. That includes taking pictures [of everything I enjoyed], too.

Interesting things:
  • Shiva is the god of destruction, therefore also of creation, because there can be no creation without destruction, and/or destruction is always followed by creation - this is an approximate quote as I remember it.
    Now, why am I talking about Shiva and Hinduism which is not so well explained in wikipedia anyway? Well, because some of you, just like me, might have liked the mix of politics&business in the Michael Clayton movie, but the script got it very wrong when referring Shiva - check out the quotes - it's not death, it's destruction and creation.

Day 3: 16th of May: Tropenmuseum - 1st floor (part 2) and ground floor

Ok, so I returned for the 3rd day.
I visited and took pictures of [everything I enjoyed]:
I skipped Culture Couture and Traveling Tales due lack of time.

The Art of survival exhibition had ended one week earlier, so I did not get to see that.

View Netherlands (by Liviu) in a larger map

Bonus: Exploring the Neighborhood

Day 1: The L-Shaped Area West of Artis

Very nice area: peace and quiet, no tourists, nice & very nice buildings.

Cool massive building between Louise Wenstraat and Sarphatistraat, with a cool passage in the middle of it.

Alexanderkade: a path for people and bicycles only, displaying buildings done in a nice modern style.

Entrepotdok street - very cool street with awesome buildings.

Cool long building between Laagte Kadijk and Entrepotdok, in the northern half: there are very cool passages that connect Laagte Kadijk and Entrepotdok; some of these passages allow free access to stairs so one can get to the first where there are gardens - it's just like a classic garden, but it's at the first floor - obviously, I kind of violated their privacy, but they had so cool architecture to show...

Day 2: The island with Artis, except Artis

Nice area: peace and quiet, few tourists.

Plantage Badlaan & Plantage Muidergracht: 2 very nice and very intimate/peaceful streets.

Plantagekade: Nive alley with a nice view at the canal.

View Netherlands (by Liviu) in a larger map


I strongly recommend you visit Tropenmuseum. It's really worth the time and money. Go there early so you have plenty of time to look at everything, since there are a lot of exhibits - it shall be quite difficult to see it all in one day.
Tropical cultures have never been explained to us properly - this was the first time when things made sense to me. Of course, many questions remain unanswered, but the museum does its job very well.

The L-shaped area west of Artis: visit it too, I think you shall enjoy it, especially the places I've mentioned in this post.

The island with Artis, except Artis: nice area, but nothing awesome that you really must see.

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