The plan of the Amsterdam Museum to stop using the term Dutch ‘Golden Age’ has provoked many people. As per the museum in Amsterdam, this nickname of the seventeenth century ignores its negative sides, like poverty, slavery and war.
“We realized that we can use the term ’17th century’ better,” told the Amsterdam Museum’s director Judikje Kiers to the NOS Radio 1. “This gives us room to re-color the image of that period.”
However, not everyone agrees with that reasoning. In a press conference, the Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, “What nonsense is this. I can’t do anything with this.” The PM feels the term ‘Golden Age’ is wonderful for a time which the Dutch can be proud of and rightly so. “The Holland Region was just as powerful as the United States now. This was the place of the great seafarers, the great inventors and the great artists. And yes, there were aspects of which we now say: ai. But those you can simply name it.”
Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven does not know if deleting the term is a wise move. She said, “For me it is both the 17th century and the Golden Age. That’s what we call it. It was also a golden age for trade and art.”
She thinks that every side of the seventeenth century has to be highlighted. She said, “But the naming in museums is really a choice of the museum itself. That must make its own assessment.”
The VVD party MP, Zohair el Yassini said that he fell from the chair when he first heard the news about this matter. “First the street name signs had to be removed, then the statues and now the entire Golden Age,” Zohair el Yassini said during the program “NOS Radio 1 Journaal”. “I prefer that the Amsterdam Museum explain what the Golden Age has brought to our country and what the negative sides of it are. That is also the task of a museum.”
As per Zohair el Yassini, there is no name change needed to perform that task. He said, “We should not suddenly get a Golden Age embarrassment. We will no longer know our own history.”
The Amsterdam Museum Director Judikje Kiers acknowledges that while this term can still be employed in certain contexts, ‘Gold’ is not a word that covers the load of every story from that period. “Of course the 17th century was the Golden Age of painting, we had incredible prosperity in that period and we had relative religious tolerance that meant a lot to Amsterdam.”
However, Kiers continues, “I also think it’s important to give space to other stories.” As per the director of the museum, some visitors occasionally asked questions concerning this. “In the 17th century, was Amsterdam only made up of rich people? And didn’t people of color also live there? We are now trying to give substance to that and the term 17th century fits in better with that.”
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam Holds on to the Term
The Rijksmuseum, which has several rooms devoted to artworks from the seventeenth century, said that it would keep the term.
“The name refers to a period in the history of great prosperity,” said the Rijksmuseum Director Taco Dibbits to the NOS. “That does not alter the fact that we recognize the shadow side of this. The Rijksmuseum approaches history from different perspectives. For example, we are opening an exhibition about slavery next year.”
About the Golden Age and Paintings from This Period
The phrase “Golden Age” refers to the heyday of paintings by Dutch artists. Rembrandt van Rijn’s typical painting style made create quite a stir, and everyone was very impressed by his work “The Night Watch”. The “The Night Watch” painting by Rembrandt is so famous that the Rijksmuseum even has a gallery named after it.
Painting by Dutch people flourished unprecedentedly during the Golden Age. The works of Rembrandt van Rijn, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, and many other artists still capture the attention and admiration of people from the world over. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is still the place to visit and see the Dutch Golden Age paintings. These works flourished as Dutch artists focused on scenes of everyday life, which is expressed through genre works indicative of this thriving period of creativity in the Netherlands.
The Rijksmuseum highlights tour shows you some of the most stunning artworks from the Golden Age. This includes everything from Rembrandt’s rough-style and characteristic paintings to Vermeer’s tranquil works like the “Milkmaid”. The guided Rijksmuseum tour of Highlights of the Golden Age is meant for those who are aged 16 years and above, not for school groups.