Thursday 15 July 2010

NEMO Science Center (Amsterdam)

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

7th of July: some sun, some clouds, quite a nice weather compared to what we usually get in Amsterdam.

NEMO Science Center (Amsterdam)
Admission: free for Museumkaart holders since 1st of July 2010 - indeed, they've just (and finally!) added it to the museumkaart pool of museum. Feel free to check the detailed price list (the Dutch version seems more reliable and more often updated).

There are lockers at the entrance, of course, but they cost 0.50 euro for each closing/opening session!!! That's right, once you have inserted the coin... it's gone! Good-bye! (This is the first time I've seen something like this and got me really annoyed!)

Pictures are allowed, of course, but there's not much to make pictures of. I made some pictures out of my museum visiting style inertia, only that. (Please note that I linked inertia to its scientific definition.)

My opinion on NEMO

For children / kids = Great museum
  • Everything is to be touched, indeed.
  • Kids are running like crazy in there.
  • There are a lot of experiments / tests things for them to do:
    • building an efficient damn with small sand bags along a river in order to send the most water to a mill (there are 4 mills connected to big display so everyone knows how well they do)
    • the factory
    • the human powered elevator
  • Kids seem very satisfied and exhausted at the end of the day

For grown-ups (like me) or science fans = Bad-bad-bad museum
  • There's a lot of noise, huge background noise - my head hurt even when sleeping :)
  • If one is familiar with science, then there's nothing spectacular to see.
  • The experiments or problems or facts displayed do not come together with a [thorough] explanation of the real science fact, they just get there displayed and that's kind of it. Therefore do not expect explanations and/or to learn thoroughly something.
  • Only expect to be amazed at some points.
  • The only interesting parts for a grown-up might be:
    • the household appliances section (in the Glass Ballroom area, at level 1) - wow! I've never had any idea that most of these appeared quite early in the 20th century - you can see very old models of:
      • vacuum cleaners
      • washing machines (and clothes driers using a man powered centrifuge at its early stages)
      • ovens (classic and microwave)
      • television sets
      • boilers
    • level 3, with its Teen Facts section - it's about sexuality and it's pretty educative and gives several explanations to some facts. I'm not mistaking if I say this section offers the biggest ratio of details per m^2 of museum.

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If you have a kid and you want him/her exhausted due to having had lots of fun, take him/her to NEMO for a whole day! He/She shall enjoy it and (who knows?) might get a taste for the real science in the future.

If you're everything else but the parent of a kid... it's your choice whether to visit NEMO or not.

Saturday 10 July 2010

Coffee and Tea Museum (Amsterdam)

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

2nd of July: cloudy, dark,  showers and rain, i.e. the usual Amsterdam weather.

Coffee and Tea Museum (Amsterdam)
Admission: free for everyone. (The challenge is to get there exactly when it's open :p)
Photos are allowed, of course.

The museum overall is very small - technically it's one quite small room (25 m^2), crowded with exhibits.

Schedule: Only on Saturdays, during the 14:00 - 16:00 time interval.
Indeed, on the site says 16:30, but that's old news! Now it's 16:00.

My opinion on the Coffee and Tea Museum

Quite a cool & entertaining & small museum.
There are 2 ladies selling in the shop downstairs and one of them has acted as museum guide.

The only thing that got me really impressed was a machine for roasting the coffee - technically, it was like a double oven (i.e. a small oven inside a bigger oven, in order to keep the heat trapped in the small oven) with 2 handles:
  • one handle allowed one to rotate the small oven inside the big oven, therefore to ensure to coffee got roasted uniformly
  • another handle allowed one to pull a few beans of coffee directly from the small oven in order to check their status, therefore one had access directly to the beans from the small oven without stopping the process or losing heat.
That's a cool piece of industrial machinery for coffee processing (i.e. roasting) in its early stages!

Other than that there were some other quite cool exhibits which you shall have to explore for yourself.

It's funny the museum is located inside the over crowded historic center, but none of the tourists has any idea what's inside that specific building - just a few even enter the Geels & Co. shop to look for some tea and/or coffee. I call this a side effect of over advertising the coffee shops (i.e. light drugs smoking shops) and the Red Light District - bad over advertising!

I wish there have been some facts about the Geels family too. After having visited the famous houses of some famous families [van Loon, Geelvinck Hinlopen, Willet-Holthuysen] I got the taste for such things. Ok, maybe the Geels were just merchants, but still some story could be told about them, I guess...

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Coffee and Tea Museum
(Amsterdam) is quite a cool museum which surely deserves a visit if you find yourself in the area exactly at the time when it's open (i.e. 14:00-16:00 only on Saturdays).

Tuesday 6 July 2010

Max Euwe Centrum (Amsterdam)

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

1st of July: sunny, quite hot - indeed, unsual weather for Amsterdam.

Max Euwe Centrum
Admission: free for everyone.
There are lockers at the entrance, of course. However, I noticed them only when leaving.
Pictures are allowed, of course.

Useful info: Max Euwe - wikipedia description

My opinion on Max Euwe Centrum

Very small museum, but nice. I liked it.
Very friendly staff.
There hardly are any visitors. Hey you tourists, don't you like chess? :p

The explanation written on the walls is in Dutch only, but there's available a printed English translation which you have to return on leaving.

The staff also asked me to write something in their guestbook when leaving. I did, because I wanted to congratulate them for their good work. Home I realized I forgot writing that we have a very good Romanian chess player now - Liviu Dieter Nisipeanu. If interested, feel free to check the ratings of all best & currently active Romanian chess players.

People playing chess in Max Euwe Plein

After visiting the museum, I spent about 40 minutes in the public square (obviously called Max Euwe Plein) next to the museum, where there always are some 2 people playing chess on that huge board.

This time 2 guys were playing. Quite cool. It appeared that the white was going to win: it had both the initiative (or should we say it never allowed black to take initiative? :D) and slightly better pieces on the table (it had sacrificed a knight to capture a tower); towards the end, it also captured black's queen, sacrificing a tower. But... in the end... black managed to check him back and forth between the same 2 positions, because white's king was trapped in a 2 squares area :) ... and you know what repeated checking in the same positions means... indeed, draw... Quite an expected draw black has managed to pull, if you ask the amateur that I am with respect to chess :)

Again, tourists passing by take a 30 seconds look, smile, take some 2-3 pictures of themselves with the huge board as background and leave... Come on, people, stop & analyze, visit the museum etc. you know.

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Yes, visit Max Euwe Centrum if you are passionate about chess and/or in mood for something different. Also, take the time to watch a bit of the game people publicly play in the square - it's fun and they seem pretty good at it!

Friday 2 July 2010

Persmuseum (Amsterdam) - en: Press Museum

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

24th of June: a sunny and quite hot day. This visit wasn't planned, but since De Key's stupid-scheduled windows painting operation continued, therefore disturbing me, I had no choice but leave the room.

Persmuseum (Amsterdam) - en: Press Museum
Admission: free for Museumkaart holders. Feel free to check the detailed price list.
There are lockers at the entrance, of course.
Photos are allowed, of course, but no flash.

The museum overall is very small - technically it's one huge room, partitioned with respect to the various things to be presented.

My opinion on the permanent collection of Persmuseum

The explanations on the walls are written in Dutch only. However, when you buy the ticket the lady will hand you a printed English version, which you shall return on leave.

Although the exhibited permanent collection is extremely small, the history of Dutch press is very well explained. They mainly talk about 3 main figures:
  1. Abraham Casteleyn [see a picture of him at wikimedia] and his newspaper Opregte Haarlemsche Courant
    Did you know that the Dutch newspaper Opregte Haarlemsche Courant was also shipped to other major cities? Do you know how long it took to get there? London (9 days), Paris (8 days), Stockholm (24 days), Moscow (40 days) and even Constantinople (82 days - probably in South East Europe roads were bad even at that time). Pretty cool!
  2. Pieter 't Hoen and De Post van den Neder-Rhyn
  3. Hak Holdert [nl.wikipedia] and De Telegraaf [nl.wikipedia; en.wikipedia]
Again, Haarlem proves itself to be really cool :) It appears to me that the Haarlem-Amsterdam area used to be some sort of Silicon Valley during the Dutch Golden Age :)

Another interesting thing is that newspaper owners used to pay for classified (i.e. secret) politics information just to have it in their newspapers and local administration used to support them. Why? Being the one printing it showed the power of your region :D By protection I mean that the central authorities (i.e. the kingdom organization) had little authority over local authorities (i.e. the provinces and cities), therefore the latter could disobey the central authorities...

I was the only visitor for the whole 2+ hours I've spent in the museum :)

My opinion on the temporary exhibition/collection: Nederland volgens Sigmund
[Time interval for this temporary exhibition: 20th of May - 26th of September 2010)]

All cartoons were only in Dutch, unfortunately.
I understood the point of some cartoons, but just a few of them.
However, given the drawing style and jokes template (as I have speculated it to be), I think a native Dutch would find it very entertaining.

Other things worth mentioning

The online collection presents a couple of things about Romania, too - Constantin Dobrogeanu-Gherea Papers and Eugen Relgis Papers. Obviously, these are not exhibited in the permanent collection of the museum.

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Persmuseum is a nice & interesting museum. For one passionate about press, politics & economics & human self-organization would be a good choice. However, most people might get bored on these matters, therefore it's up to you to decide whether to visit it or not.