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The New Rijksmuseum
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, with its priceless collection of Rembrandts and Vermeers, is one of the great art institutions of the world. At the beginning of the millennium it was decided to give it a makeover. Though the work needed wasn’t going to happen overnight, no one foresaw the full extent of the difficulties involved. Or that it would be fully ten years before it opened its doors to the public again.
The delays and frustrations (but also the final triumphs) are recorded in Oeke Hoogendijk’s beautifully made documentary. One battle which at times seemed insoluble was with the city’s powerful Cyclists Association, who demanded that the entrance to the museum should continue to be usable as a cycle conduit. Another – this time interior – battle was with the museum’s Paris-based design consultants, whose insistence on a dark grey colour scheme for the walls ran counter to the wishes of the museum’s newly-appointed director. (A previous director, driven mad by frustration, had meanwhile opted for early retirement.) It seems that each day came round with a new burden of decisions to be made, and a new set of egos to be soothed. Not everyone, in this vast cast of characters, is as diplomatic as he or she ought to be.
But the filmmaker has patience, and a wry sense of humour. In the end, the right solutions are found – or at least, the not obviously wrong ones. Catastrophe is averted. So one fine day in 2013, the Queen is there – the director by her side – to unlock the newly refurbished building.
Filmmaker Oeke Hoogendijk (b. 1961) studied at the Utrecht School of the Arts, where she graduated as theatre director in 1990. In 1996 she successfully completed a documentary film-making course at the Media Academy. After her first two documentary films Een gelukkige tijd (The Saved) (1998) and The Holocaust Experience (2002) she worked on Het Nieuwe Rijkmuseum (The New Rijksmuseum) between 2005 and 2013. The four-part series won the Jury Award at the Festival International du Film sur l’Art in Montreal, Canada, and the Dutch ‘Gouden Kalf’ Special Jury prize for best documentary film 2013.