Rotterdam has thirty four museums - apparently. Whatever the precise number, there are a lot. I have been to just one of them, the Kunsthal, which is an art gallery. I've been to it three times, but it is the only one I've visited. I am ashamed.
I have never been to the Doelen, the city's fine concert hall, nor have I been to the famous Rotterdam Film Festival as a visitor. I have been part of a film crew that was making its own film about the film festival, but I have never watched any of the films being screened at the film festival itself(is that enough films for you?). I am still more ashamed.
Now tell me where I can find a piece of history and I will seek it out - the monumental windmills in Schiedam, the Pilgrim's church in Delfshaven, the old VOC warehouse in the achterhaven; show me books of the pre-war city, immerse me in the tales of devastating floods and the building of the great dykes and you've got me hooked. I will even drive over a hundred kilometres to see ancient ship wrecks exposed by the draining of the polder (pity they were no longer there when I got to the place!). Why then, can I not find the motivation to go to the fantastic collection of musea that are just around the corner?
It is quite expensive. That's one possibility, but if I really wanted to it wouldn't put me off. I paid handsomely to go to the Escher and Dali exhibitions - and I'm not Dutch - yet. Maybe they are also too close, as in they are always there; I can go any time which means I go at no time. But no. I think the real reason is that I find museums and art galleries are often oppressive places, where everything is out of context. The artifacts in museums were all once part of people's lives while the paintings of the old masters were intended to grace the walls of people's homes. To me, the only art that is at its best in a gallery is the more modern, abstract art which is often designed to be observed in isolation. Art for art's sake. As for history, it should be alive and around us, not locked in cases in pompous, featureless chambers.
When it comes to music, I love classical concerts as well as rock and this is something I really should address. There are recitals, dance performances and symphonic concerts going on throughout the year in Rotterdam, and I should and will be there. That then is my resolution. I know it's a bit late for new year, but I think it's not one to be shelved until the next year is in. if I start now, my cultural gaps may be closing nicely by the time 2008 comes around. What about the museums, though? Well, I guess I'll save them for when the family is here in the summer. Then I can ooh and aaah along with the best of them and still sound as if I mean it!