The Night Watch: coming soon to a shopping center near you!

The reopening of the Rijksmuseum has become an in-ignorable fact here in Holland. If there is anyone in the Netherlands who doesn’t know the Rijksmuseum is being reopened, he surely has been living under a rock for the last few weeks.

Today, I came across this video of an awesome way of promoting the long-awaited reopening. Visitors of a shopping centre in Breda (which is, by Dutch standards, quite far away from Amsterdam), were treated to a live version of the Night Watch, created by thirty actors in 17th century clothing. The sight of this flashmob is quite spectacular, even more so because some of the actors arrived at the shopping center on horseback.


This spectacular way of marketing its reopening I think shows that the Rijksmuseum has not only renovated its building but has also become a marvelous example of how every modern-day museum should present itself. The Rijksmuseum is sponsored by a few leading Dutch companies: BankGiroLoterij, Philips, KPN and ING. Commercial sponsorship is still a point of discussion in the Dutch cultural field, even though large companies – often banks – like ING, ABN and Bouwfonds all own an extensive art collection. It is the everlasting love-hate relationship between art and commerce that still largely prevails. Since the Dutch government has cut subsidies to cultural companies, a slow but steady change in mentality becomes apparent. Commercial sponsoring becomes more common as this seems to be one of the best ways to secure the continued existence of important museums. The Rijksmuseum shows that it can perfectly combine commercial sponsorship with creative marketing ánd high art. Ironically, ING appears as the main sponsor at the end of this video. Would that be were all our money went last week?

The living version of Rembrandt's Night Watch
The living version of Rembrandt’s Night Watch


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