Tag Archives: paintings

When The Sun Comes Out In Edinburgh…

When the sun comes out in Edinburgh, Scotland — a rush is on for any available seat outside to soak up the rays as you eat your cafe lunch. At least that’s what we witnessed yesterday at the National Gallery of Modern Art. And as we drove through the park-side areas along Queen Street on the way to and from the museum’s two massive buildings, we could see that the paths were filled with women pushing strollers, children were playing on the grass, and people were sitting atop benches and low stone walls everywhere as they ate their lunch in warmth for a nice change.

Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, Scotland


Architectural details: exterior steps of Dean Gallery

Afternoon light in the museum cafe - Photo by Mark Harmes

Each of the museums, one formerly an elegant boarding school and one a former orphanage housed in a rather impressive building, had vast rooms with high ceilings that were perfect for displaying the art in the collections. I was unable to take photos inside due to the rules of each museum, but I quite enjoyed the massive metal sculpture by Eduardo Paolozzi as you entered the gates of the Dean Gallery.

Large sculpture by Eduardo Paolozzi at Dean Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the words and images on this page.
All rights reserved.

Marching Through History in Amsterdam

How small they were, those suits of armor. How diminutive were the heroes that defended the realm and bore that metallic outer layer upon their arms and chests. Marching, marching — doing what was expected of them.

Suits of Armor

Suit of Armor

I was surprised when I stood quite close to several of the exhibits and realized that the men who wore those metal suits were, in many cases, quite a bit smaller of frame and shorter of stature than most contemporary 20th or 21st century women. And these tiny men fought quite furious battles on land and sea to conquer lands or defend their homes. They were certainly smaller than I am and I’m not a very big person at 5 and 1/2 feet tall.

Perhaps it was the gloomy palette of the winter day outside and the icy-gusty rain, but between the paintings and exhibits of military life or the life aboard a sailing ship in both the Rijksmuseum yesterday afternoon and the Amsterdam Historisch Museum today, I experienced a strong sense of sadness for those lives that may have had intense boredom or bodily discomfort layered into their daily existence. I actually shuddered at one particularly vivid picture of two ships, side by side, engaged in a fiery, bloody battle. None of it seemed remotely stirring or the least bit grand or glamorous.

Exterior of the Rijksmuseum

Our afternoon at the Rijksmuseum was quite pleasant in spite of the mid-winter crowds and it was marvelous to revisit the work of Rembrandt after two decades, see his evolution as a painter, and compare the work of his contemporaries.


Corbel known as The Milkmaid

Corbel known as The Milkmaid

Wooden statue from 15th century

Wooden statue from 15th century

1960s-70s Kitchen

1960s-70s Kitchen

For me personally, the most enjoyable parts of our visit to the Amsterdam Historisch Museum were the fine wooden carvings that were displayed on the exterior of buildings during the 15th through 17th centuries and the exhibits on daily life in Amsterdam. There were cross sections of model houses that showed how the citizens of this city lived in various eras and set-ups of entire period rooms.

Some of the exhibits were both difficult to view and eerily fascinating at the same time. We had walked through room after room, era after era until we reached the top floor of this large museum and we came upon an entire series of displays that illustrated what life was like for Amsterdam citizens during the 5 year long German occupation of World War II. It was compelling viewing and I have included a few photos below of propaganda posters that can be enlarged if you click on them.

Picture of Judenstrasse during German occupation

German Propaganda Posters

This is a particularly comprehensive one-city-only historical museum that is housed in a splendidly large building. The exhibits are quite easy to understand, even if you don’t speak a word of Dutch! In fact, almost all of the museum has both Dutch and English captioning. A visit to this museum is a highly recommended way to spend several hours in Amsterdam.

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the copyright of all text and photos on this website.
All rights reserved.

A Visit With Vincent

The morning weather report had a forecast of snow and the startling cold air against my cheeks as I left the apartment made me believe that smiling weatherman. He was wrong — and I was relieved. There was already enough residual ice on the pavement all over Amsterdam to make the simple act of walking require alertness, concentration, and good balance.

Appropriately bundled up and laughing about the fact that a mere four days ago we had been at the beach in Australia, we caught the #3 tram and headed for the area known as Museumplein and the Van Gogh Museum at Paulus Potterstraat 7, trying to arrive right at the opening time of of 10 AM. The visitors were quite sparse and, feeling rather smug about that, we headed into the first of four floors of artwork. But by the time we emerged from the last gallery into the museum shop, we were walking in stops and starts due to the sheer number of people who entered the building in the two hour period since our arrival.

Van Gogh Museum exterior side view

This is a moving collection of Vincent Van Gogh’s work that clearly shows his evolution through various stages as an artist. The mental struggles that he endured are evident as you see the colour palette and brushwork change over the years. The pieces produced during his lighter and more upbeat years are a startling contrast to the heavier-hearted and more frantic works of art. I highly recommend this museum if you have at least a two hour window in your own visit to Amsterdam.

We are travelling now — finally — after planning this life change and free-fall adventure for over two years. So we have no place to call home right now, no walls to hang artwork on, no shelves to stack books on, no cabinets to place things within.

Books on display in the shop at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

I looked at the posters, opened the books, touched the scarves and t-shirts, and walked away from them. In the end my sole purchase was a handful of postcards. And Mark had quite a surprised expression on his face when he heard me say aloud, “I have no desire to acquire.” And I meant it!

Posters and prints in the Van Gogh Museum Shop

This is a beautiful museum inside — light and airy and contemporary. But there is no photography allowed inside, so I can only assure you that it is lovely and urge you to go and see it for yourself. Although the artwork is spread out over four levels, there are both stairways and elevators for easy access. And there is one of the nicest self-serve restaurants on the ground floor that I have seen in any museum. We took a break for a coffee and a pastry at 11:30 and were quite impressed with the food that was available.

After leaving the Van Gogh Museum, our plan was to walk next door to the Stedelijk Museum — the modern art museum — but it is closed on Mondays, so we will have to try again later this week.

Realizing that the crowds at the Rijksmuseum would be considerable so late after the morning opening time, we decided to spend the rest of the day gently meandering through the park area in Museumplein and then take a tram into the Central District for some window shopping.

Here are some of the sights that I spotted along the way. Enjoy!

Lunch Kiosk Microvan (made by same company that manufactures Vespa scooters in Italy)

Wooden clog holding sunflower on cafe table in Museumplein

© Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
Please respect the copyright of all text and photos on this website. All rights reserved.