dR Daily

dR Dispatch 9/18/19: Light and dark and XXX in Amsterdam

Rembrandt's "The Night Watch" undergoing X-ray scanning.
Luxury Living Tampa Bay

Welcome to Day 3 of my transplanted dR Daily. Museums were the order of the day, and a dinner with friends what told us what all those “XXX” symbols mean that we’ve been seeing all over the place. 

Outside the Anne Frank House.

The light above. Among the many poignant moments in the Anne Frank House there’s a passage from her diary inscribed on the wall above the staircase to the attic, where she and her friend Peter would look out the only window in their families’ hiding place that had not been blacked out. “‘As long as this exists,’ I thought, ‘and I am allowed to experience it, this sunshine, that sky without a cloud in sight, for as long as that I cannot be sad.’” The attic is the one area that visitors cannot access, but the rest of the families’ cramped quarters — what Anne called “The Secret Annex”  — is on view to the public. Being there is a visceral reminder of the horrors of the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam, when Jewish residents were forced into hiding. But it’s also a heartening testament to the power of the written word. Anne said in her diary, “My greatest wish is to become a journalist someday and later on a famous writer.” Her father — the only member of the Frank family to survive internment in Nazi camps — published her diary after the war and granted her wish, and  his daughter’s words have made an indelible impression on generations. (A visit to the Anne Frank House is a must, but make sure to get your tickets months in advance; we did, and I’m glad of it.)

The entry hall of the Rijksmuseum, part of a 2013 addition to the 1885 main building.

The lights inside. The sheer size of the Rijksmuseum, the Dutch national museum, is overwhelming, a palace of art and history whose soaring spaces were designed for maximum impact by 19th-century architect Pierre Cuypers. But the most memorable moments are encapsulated in the smallest details: the tiny points of light in Vermeer’s The Kitchen Maid; the exquisitely detailed furnishings inside the Poppenhuizen, dollhouses made, not for children, but for the diversion of grown women; and the minute discoveries being made about Rembrandt’s huge canvas The Night Watch as a macro X-ray scanner moves over every square millimeter of the painting, a process visitors can watch as it happens.

Triple X. No, this is not about the city’s infamous Red Light District, which we haven’t had the pleasure of visiting (yet).  “XXX” is the insignia on the flag of Amsterdam, our friend Joorn told us, and like the stars and stripes in the U.S. it’s ubiquitous. There are varying theories on what the X’s signify; I’m thinking Xtraordinary, Xcentric, Xtra. You see all three during any given stroll through the city: the one-man band floating down the Prinsengracht canal; the bearded fellow on the flower-bedecked bicycle; the embellishments that distinguish the buildings lining the canals. 

A bedecked bike.

 

Leave a Reply