Spring comes and next to the tulips (mandatory) and the warm weather (optional), we are confronted with yearly recurring dilemma’s of belonging to specific crowds, or not.
It is a common activity, queuing-up for purchasing stuff, like for new gadgets at the moment of their appearance at the shop, a ticket for the Rolling Stones concert at Pink Pop Festival (summer 2014), a ticket for the Van Gogh Museum (tough one) or a chance for buying a “klus-huis”/ house that needs thorough renovation (yes, we saw that too just a month ago in The Hague; duration of waiting on the queue: one week day and night at the city hall… no joke). These have mostly to do with strong wishes and our ability to satisfy them with money and patience.
Queueing-up in front of the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam is a thrill
About abundance and crumble
But what about the free stuff, where we can include free samples of whatever consumable product as well as free food for people in need and free entertainment, all offered kindly? Concerts come to mind first when talking about spring-summer free entertainment, naturally, but museums get their go too … for a weekend. All over Holland, on the first weekend of April, this year on 5-6 April, about 300 museums let us go in for free; or almost for free, as I read for this year’s edition of the event. It is the 33rd edition, which means that museum-weekend started in the 80’s; in 1981 to be exact. It was the time of abundance of benefits for the people of Europe, followed by a decade of life-style and the slow begin of crumble right after. Where we are now we all know; culture in Holland lost since 2011 about 200 million Euro of state subsidy and now, with the local elections done, it is threatened to loose a substantial amount of the municipal subsidies too. For museums, this meant the obligatory self earning of 17,5% of their income, in order to be eligible for subsidy for anything else than the maintenance of their collection. Here only to mention the Meermanno museum in The Hague (to visit for free this weekend, the new exhibition “From Picasso to Sol LeWitt, the artists’ book after 1950”), that totally lost the option to claim anything else than that minimal support. It was a shock and the consequences are still evolving. In any case, many museums turned to lucrative periodical exhibitions in order to earn this eligibility; a heavy drill in all aspects.
The role of the museum
In this situation it is almost unethical to start a talk about the role of the museum, which if I am not mistaken fell under education; and as we know, education in civilized countries is offered for free to the people; to the young people, children, as priority, but to all the people too; seen that education does not stop with the end of school years. There are countries, with Britain as most obvious example, where you can walk in and out the museums as many times as you want and other countries that have one day in the week a free-for-all entrance. Without doubt there are museums in Holland too that try their own free days or evenings apart from this collective free weekend, but the norm is that Dutch museums are very expensive to visit and not all of them offer free entrance to the youth. I wonder how much harm it would do if museums would set one day per week or per month with free access for the public. To my view, people would defend their cultural institutions more if they felt them as theirs.
Guided tours and activities guaranteed
A chance for socialising
Back to the museum weekend, with the certainty that there are many people in Holland with the list ready, I expect that queuing-up will not stop them; rather the opposite, as a chance for socialising! Take notice that the Van Gogh museum does not participate, so no extra queue there.