REPORT – From 12 to 15 January 2023, a large part of the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht will be set up for new holiday fun. For Art on Sunday I went looking for attractive travel destinations that you can visit in the Dutch museums. And that range is wide and surprising. Anyone looking for a cultural holiday this year can indulge themselves to a large extent with private or public transport in the Netherlands. By train to Africa, Pompeii, Alaska, Lebanon or a concert with the Rolling Stones. Everything is possible in our own country this year.
The world’s oldest port, Byblos now in Leiden
Byblos, is the major winter exhibition in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden. This city has an unprecedentedly long history, from 6,500 BC. until now, a total of more than 8,500 years. It was once the world’s largest port city with cedar wood as the main trading resource. The peak of this city and its population was around 3,000 BC.
The archaeological site of this old Lebanese port city is located 40 kilometers north of the capital Beirut. The Arabic name for Byblos is Jbeil. Both the port city of Byblos and the country of Lebanon have a long and rich history. There are several UNESCO World Heritage Sites scattered throughout the country.
Women starring in Byblos
Because of the international trade in cedar wood, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans often sailed their ships to this Lebanese port city. Discover the stories behind the fish hooks, anchors, clay tablets (in many languages), weapons, jars, gems, mosaics, stelae and bronzes. In Byblos, the kings, merchants, mythological heroes and fortune seekers play an important role. The real main role here is reserved for the goddess ‘Lady of Byblos’ and, because of her presence, also for the Egyptian pharaohs.
One of the most important scientists who worked on this site is the French chemist Mireille Dunand (1901-1985). She worked with her husband Maurice Dunand (1898-1987) from 1926 until the civil war in 1975 on this archaeological dig. Mireille developed a new way of exploiting an archaeological site. Byblos, the world’s largest port city, can be explored until 12 March 2023 in the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden.
Pompeii and Herculaneum in Assen
Two other historical cities from our collective memory are the Italian cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. In 79 AD both cities and their inhabitants are buried under lava and ash from the volcano Vesuvius. At the Drents Museum in Assen you can now discover how the inhabitants lived and worked here before this devastating natural disaster. The focus is on the beauty and art of life for both the wealthy Romans and the hardworking artisans and bakers. A beautiful light show puts the world of Pompeii and Herculaneum in a different light. Discover how the Romans used art in public spaces. In the gardens of the wealthy, the owners’ mythological knowledge was widely displayed in bronze and mosaics. Discover the jewelery worn by both men and women and meet ‘the baker and his wife’. The menu in museum brasserie Pingo offers various Italian dishes, so you can make a real day out of it in ‘la dolven vita’.
The exhibition Dying in Beauty – The world of Pompeii and Herculaneum can be seen in the Drents Museum in Assen until 26 March 2023. The museum is open weekly from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibition can be visited free of charge with a museum card.
Arctic: Our last great wilderness in The Hague
If you are more interested in the power of nature and art, then the blockbuster film The Arctic in the Museon-Omniversum in The Hague is an interesting destination. Explore the icy world of northern Alaska from the warm cinema room. On the 840 m² dome screen, you will discover one of the last areas on earth that has not (yet) been affected by man. Meet reindeer, powerful musk oxen, polar bear families and wolves. 200 different bird species also visit this area every year. Native cultures have lived in this bizarre winter landscape for thousands of years in balance with nature. Unbridled economic growth and contemporary consumer behavior threaten flora and fauna as well as indigenous cultures. Be guided by the pictures of Arctic: Our last great wilderness enchant and at the same time learn what we can do to protect the Arctic. See here for more information about this unique nature reserve and read the story of ‘one planet’ here.
See here the shooting days and start times for the blockbuster The Arctic: Our Last Great Wilderness in the Museon-Omniversum in The Hague.
Iceland in Tilburg
To experience the latest trends in art from Iceland, just take the train to Tilburg in January. Museum De Pont is showing a large retrospective of the Icelandic (visual) artist Ragnar Kjartansson (Reykjavik 1976). Ragnar Kjartansson was born in 1976 in Reykjavik. His father is a director and playwright, and his mother is a well-known actress in Iceland. Ragnar grew up in a world of theater, music and fantasy. Like many Icelanders, Ragnar has a passion for music. “If you want to make music professionally in Iceland, you go to art school,” says Ragnar. He attends Iceland’s Art Academy after high school. During his studies he comes into contact with visual arts. This opens up endless possibilities for him. Music remains a passion, visual art becomes his goal. Since graduating in 2001, Ragnar has explored various art disciplines, which is reflected in his use of multimedia. In addition to paintings and installations, Ragnar makes video productions. His video installations, performances, drawings and paintings refer to the history of film, music, visual culture and literature. Ragnar’s work is strongly influenced by the comedy and tragedy of classical theatre. He uses long, repetitive performances.
‘Time changes everything‘ by Ragnar Kjartansson can be experienced until 29 January 2023 in Museum De Pont in Tilburg. See here for all the details.
The African continent in Berg en Dal
If you prefer a real climate, Africa might be more your destination. In the Afrikamuseet in Berg en Dag (Nijmegen) you can learn everything about this huge continent. Both history and contemporary cultures are discussed in depth in the exhibition ‘Inspiring Africa’. You will get to know this continent and its inhabitants based on five themes. Five themes follow after a film introduction: the power of change (1); religion & identity (2); a changing perspective (3); across borders (4) and creators in the spotlight (5). Africa has no less than 54 countries and more than 2000 officially recognized languages are spoken on this continent. By 2023, more than a billion people will live in this part of the world. Africa has a rapidly growing fashion industry and has its own Silicon Valleys. In South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria, among others.
You can discover inspiring Africa for yourself in the Africa Museum in Berg en Dal / Nijmegen. This museum can be visited for free with the museum card.
Italian fashion in Groningen
Speaking of fashion, in the Groninger Museum you can now delve into the life and career of Gianni Versace (1946-1997). The exhibition Gianni Versace retrospective is a colourful, daring and emotional exhibition. You will be taken into a world of extravagant clothes and exuberant catwalk shows. Here, fashion, pop and design meet in a spectacular way. Gianni Versace was a pioneer in the world of fashion. He broke through the traditional male-female image by referring to power and sexuality in his creations for both sexes. Greek antiquity, pop art and slavery. In the world of fashion, he is considered one of the most influential couturiers of all time. Gianni Versace was murdered 25 years ago, but his forward-thinking ideas can still be felt in today’s fashion.
Gianni Versace retrospective can be seen in the Groninger Museum until 7 May 2023. Order your ticket online here. Museum card holders pay a surcharge of €5.
The Rolling Stones back in Groningen
The exhibition The Rolling Stones – Unzipped returns to the Groninger Museum from 30 June 2023. In 2020 this colorful exhibition open for four weeks due to the corona pandemic. In this international exhibition of and about the rock band, you get a behind-the-scenes look at their extensive career. You will see numerous original items from the band members’ personal archives, such as instruments, stage designs and album covers. Take your time for the iconic costumes, the personal diaries, rare audio clips and various video materials. Tickets for The Rolling Stones – Unzipped can be ordered online from March 2023 on the museum’s website.
This world and concert tour through the Dutch museums marks the start of the new cultural year for Kunst op Zondag. We look forward with great pleasure to a year when we can once again inspire you with our art and museum tips.
© text, photos and video Wilma Lankhorst
© use of the images with permission from and with the mentioned museums, artists, all lenders. The photo of Gianna Versace with permission from and with the approval of the Groninger Museum.