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activity in Holland

My husband and I just got back from a visit to Amsterdam, and although this
is not a book related subject, this is one of the most fascinating things
we saw: I wanted to visit the Rembrandt house, the place where Rembrandt
lived and had a school with a printshop and a painting studio. The
house/museum has a large collection of Rembrandt's etchings, which I
particularly wanted to see. When we got there we were disappointed to see
that the house was boarded up and closed for renovations. The museum is now
in an attached house, and we were able to see the wonderful etching
collection. As we were leaving, we saw that they were conducting a couple
of 45-minute tours of the boarded up house. The man conducting the tour was
not your usual museum docent, but one of the people involved in the
renovations. He explained that the house had been turned into a museum
sometime in the last century, but had been fixed up in a way that the
people then thought a museum should look. Presently the inside is a mess,
with the floors torn up, drop cloths all over, etc., but he explained all
the scholarship that has gone into reconstructing the house to look as they
believe it looked when Rembrandt lived there. He said that there are no
houses in Amsterdam at present from the 17th century that haven't been
redone at some time or other, so they have to rely on paintings, prints,
descriptions, houses from other parts of Holland, etc. They had just
installed a wooden box bed that would have been similar to the bed
Rembrandt and Saskia had, but from paintings and prints that he had done of
Saskia in bed when she was ill, they could see that the carving and style
of the top of the bed was somewhat different. So they had carpenters who
specialize in conservation come and redo parts of the bed to match the
paintings. Another interesting example is the tiles on the floors. He said
that it's hard to get 17th century tiles, but they are available at times.
So they are gradually collecting them to put down on the floors that would
have been tiled. Recently a ship was dredged up that had sunk in the 17th
century. The ship had a large number of tiles in it that were used as
ballast. The tiles were in good condition, and were original 17th century
tiles (obviously). They have been donated to the Rembrandt house, and they
will be using them. There are lots of other examples, but this post is
getting rather long. Anyway, the house will be open to the public in
September, but if you can manage to get a tour before it opens, it's
actually a lot more interesting, in a way. And we really learned a lot!
Have a wonderful trip!
Shireen Holman, Printmaker and Book Artist
email: tholman@clark.net

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