Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A glimpse of Paris

Last week was Spring break. A freezing cold Spring break. Not that it was freezing as such, it just felt that way each time I stepped outdoors and an icy wind sliced into my face. The combination of cold weather and young children means a need to find things to do indoors, but preferably outside of the home. Staying indoors at home means getting on one another's nerves and an endless number of disputes to settle.

Hence we ventured out into the world of museums, using our newly acquired museum membership cards. Firstly, we visited the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, where the children were spooked out by an odd Scandinavian film on a large screen in a darkened room. Not a good idea. After the haunting intro (something to do with plastic surgery performed by surgeons wearing balaclavas), we hurried out and visited Ron van der Ende's  exhibition in the room next door: flat sculptures - or reliefs, if you like - of modern phenomena; suspended on the walls, they give the effect of an object moving into the space.  These were fascinating.

Later in the week we went to the Gemeente Museum in The Hague where we visited the Mark Rothko exhibition. Thankfully we had booked our passes on the internet: besides the one permanently outside the Anne Frank Huis in Amsterdam, I've never seen a longer queue for a museum.  After the children's frightening experience at the Kunsthal, we also took the trouble to ask museum staff whether there was anything we should avoid with the children. No, the current exhibitions were pretty safe, we were assured.

As for Rothko: I'm not sure what to think. Though I certainly understand that colours evoke deep emotions and possibly spiritual experiences, I can't help thinking that if Rothko were alive and happy today, he would be laughing all the way to the bank. Funnily enough, M and I found ourselves more fascinated by the beautiful Berlage building of the museum: the bold colours, stained glass windows, and art deco archtictural features and tile work. The children went along with everything quite nicely, but for them the highlight was surely the interactive bits involving the history of the building, and the juice and cake they gorged in the beautiful, central conservatory.

No doubt inspired by our visits to the museums, we did some creative stuff at home. M has always had a fascination for design and craftsmanship. In fact, at times he still regrets not having studied engineering. So, when he has the time, he likes to get son S's building blocks out and build something quite intricate. And since we're going to Paris with the children in May, what better way to look forward to the trip than to have our own personal Eiffel to look at (until someone knocks it over, that is). The result is on the photo.

Of course the children's imagination got rolling. They envisioned a fire breaking out and fire fighters coming to the rescue. And before long, as these things go, a crowd gathers, anticipating heroic action.