The New Rijksmuseum (Parts 1 and 2) (2013)
If you've visited Amsterdam, you've probably been to the Rijksmuseum, one of the world's preeminent art museums - home to masterpieces by Rembrandt and Vermeer - itself a vast, magnificent structure, built in 1895 by architect Pierre Cuypers. The renovation of the museum (it reopened this past April) went on for 10 long, expensive years, so it is fitting that a documentary on this torturous (and often, inadvertently hilarious) process should turn into not one but two feature-length movies: Spanish architects Antonio Cruz and Antonio Ortiz have designed an ingenious new entryway, but the Dutch Cyclists Union won't tolerate reduced access for the 13,000 bicyclists who ride through the passageway daily. The museum's magisterial director, Ronald de Leeuw, and his successor, the younger, scrappier Wim Pijbes, battle with curators, politicians, designers, city bureaucrats, and the public as the price of construction soars to $500 million. It's a messy, complicated story that New Yorkers will relate to, but fortunately, one with a glorious ending. (c) Film Forum … More
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Critic Reviews for The New Rijksmuseum (Parts 1 and 2)
No one survives unscathed, but the most pitiable figures here are the world-class architects who designed the elegant new structures and displays, then watched helplessly as their bold work was watered down.
How do you properly "restore" a site dedicated to preserving and displaying centuries of culture and history? [The film] details this impossible task, and it's thrilling.
Unsurprisingly, tedious boardroom meetings are as tedious to watch as to participate in.
The film is enthralling, despite a few too many shots of mud puddles on the construction site and slow pans over the roof.
It most potently strikes the tone of an elegy, pensively observing that beneath the bickering in museum boardrooms lies a massive treasure trove of art history that's being kept from the public's eye.
"The New Rijksmuseum" proves that films can describe nuances of character and situation as finely as the finest novel or creative non-fiction.
If it does not exactly write a fresh chapter in the history of art, it stands as an exemplary study in the sociology of art administration.
The artworks appear in quick glimpses, mainly in storage, with many on the way toward their own restoration.
An exhaustingly long but ultimately worthwhile doc with a great, deserving subject at its center: one of the world's great museums, undergoing an overhaul.
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