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Amsterdam’s Finest Museum

In Amsterdam, no matter what they say, everything is nearby. If the traveller’s pretension is to observe the city in a calmed way, the best way of doing so is on foot.

Nonetheless, Amsterdam’s local company of transports decided some years ago to establish the streetcar’s line number twenty, to help most tourists arrive on time to the wonderful Dutch capital’s most impressive places. In any case, to walk or to take the tramway, specially in springtime, are the best ways to understand the city. However, if you are a romantic, or an ecologist, the most intelligent system is probably to rent a bicycle, which is the most common mean of transport used by Amsterdamer’s.

Especially because in Amsterdam, just beside those streets full of bicycles and cars and parks and pedestrians there are channels. Hundreds of channels. I know this may sound very obvious, but it is not that much. Because in this so Dutch and so small and so beautiful city it is not so easy to travel on wheels, despite how tidy Northern Europeans may be.

So just imagine that you have taken the option to travel by tramway which is indeed the option I choose whenever I have this dilemma. Just after leaving Amsterdam’s main station (I guess one of the most beautiful buildings in the whole country) the vehicle arrives to an immense avenue and a square named Museums’ Square. It is precisely in that square where the Stedelijk, one of the most important art galleries in the world, which is in Dutch Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, is to be found. Next to it the traveller can visit the scandalously prodigious Van Gogh Museum, the place where most masterworks of the genial painter are exhibited. Even nearer is the Rijksmuseum, one of the most incredible art galleries in the world is a must-see.

Studying the alternatives, I feel like entering inside the Stedelijk, the Contemporary Art in its pure essence. In this temple, examples can be found of every revolutionary style in the fields of painting, furniture, sculpture, drawing, imagery, photography or graphical design, in all their facets. Amsterdam is a fully alive place. People from all places integrate an interracial liquor which has made her become one of the most open-minded cities in the world. Amsterdam is vanguard, too. On her streets, cosmopolitan interaction and cultural activity are the basis for her unforgettable contrasts.

Well, the Contemporary Art Museum is a gallery which tries to intellectually and deeply shock visitors as much as possible. The museum’s library, for instance, is located in an enormous room, inside a cage sited in the museum’s basement. Once in there, the effect is the following one. You enter the room and turn around the cages. Again and again. You can meet the books, touch them, hit them, burn them if you want… but you cannot read them.

Located chronologically, the paintings exhibited in the museum allow the visitor to estimate the development of art in the last 150 years, departing from the idyllic images of French as Seurat or Monet. Some metres later, Vincent Van Gogh’s colourists images welcome us. However, the presence of Van Gogh in this museum is strictly reduced, as the Van Gogh Museum seems to have the moral monopoly over his work. Later on, cubism is represented by a series of genial works by Picasso or Braque, and Chagall shows us his electric apples and unbelievable colours. We get deeply into the 20th century thanks to Piet Mondrian and Jackson Pollock, with their fast geometries and their immense linens and unattainable paintings, or Andy Warhol looking at us from his sarcasm, and to the most unbelievable masterworks of Newman, De Kooning, Nauman, Merz, Dibbets or the new tendencies in the field of NetArt. However, smaller exhibitions on young artists can also be analysed inside it.

The Stedelijk is the museum of controversy. Something like the whole city in all. It is controversial for it represents an authentic break of the aesthetic parameters imagined up to the moment. The controversy is an exhibition made by pieces of the fuselage of old planes painted with red aerosols or linens in targets. At the end, controversy tends to mean vanguard.

One of the blocks of the museum invites to reckon in an environment of tranquillity, a feeling much difficult to obtain in some other museums. The Stedelijk proposes a tour through the alternative tendencies of our moment, so that you might get your own idea of how the future is going to be. This is Stedelijk museum’s magic, opened every day of the year from eleven to five except on January 1st. This museum’s greatest merit is to permit visitors not to say if they like or they do not the works exhibited there, but to throw that question to the air.

It is necessary to take into account that Amsterdam is much more than legalised drugs and progressive music. The waters of its Amstel river take us back to our place in a way that only Munich or Chicago can do. The artistic life of a city tells us a lot about it. So be decided and follow my advice: take streetcar number twenty and when you get to the Museumplein ask for the Stedelijk museum

Indeed, if today is vanguard, this place must be Amsterdam.

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