Friday, December 28, 2007

Way to Gogh

Ok, the bad pun had to show up sometime. Art Daily reports that the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam had about 1.5 million visitors this year. The exhibitions "Van Gogh and Expressionism" and "Max Beckmann in Amsterdam" were big draws, and the current show on fin-de-siècle Barcelona is popular too.

But here's the interesting statistic: more than half the VGM's visitors are reported to be age 30 or younger. (Sadly, I'm a few years away from having been one of those during my visits.) It's suggested that the museum's Friday night programs helped contribute to this figure. Back in May I went on a Friday night, stupidly thinking that it would be quiet and I'd get to spend quality time with the paintings. Wrong! It was hopping! A DJ was playing house music in the atrium, and young people were lounging around on cushy chairs, enjoying the cash bar. The galleries were packed, and you could hear the music throughout the building. Not what I wanted, really, but it was still fun. And neat to think that a museum could be considered The Place To Be -- especially when Amsterdam offers all manner of, shall we say, alternative entertainment.

There's more to it than that, I think. Vincent is rather a cult hero among young people (ohhh, I sounded old just then). All my students know who he is even before I get to them, and most of them like his art. He's "cool," and I think that as much as DJ's and a cash bar helps explain the VGM's popularity.

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