Van Gogh Museum Reopens As Beauty Salon To Defy Confusing COVID Rules
By Mikelle Leow, 26 Jan 2022
Art institutions around the world have had a rough time recovering from the pandemic, and while many have since reopened, museums in the Netherlands were forced to shut down again in December due to the rise of Omicron cases.
To manage the variant, the Dutch government has prohibited museums, theaters, bars, and cafés from staying open—but has given the go-ahead to hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms, and even brothels. Its choice of establishments that can keep running has baffled the cultural sector.
To address the supposed double standards, some 70 cultural venues—including the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam—staged a one-day protest and converted themselves into greenlighted “contact professions” on Wednesday, January 19, fully knowing that the government might clamp down on operations.
The Van Gogh Museum reopened as a “one-off” hair and nail salon that promised to give “both the inner and the outer person a makeover.” Beauty services were offered under the gaze of Vincent van Gogh, inviting guests to do their nails face to face with the post-Impressionist painter.
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True to its muse, nail technicians Loes Appels and Robbin Wilms created Van Gogh-themed art for manicures, while barber Ferry Seksie gave haircuts and trimmed beards too, of course.
“We wanted to make the point that a museum is a safe visit and we should be open,” Emilie Gordenker, director at the Van Gogh Museum, told AFP.
“We just ask them to be consistent… make the rules in a way everyone understands them,” she shared in a statement published by the BBC.
Meanwhile, the Mauritshuis in The Hague, where Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring resides, temporarily transformed into an exercise boot camp. The Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam provided haircut services during an orchestra rehearsal, as it’s not allowed to hold a real performance; and the Limburgs Museum in Venlo hosted Zumba and yoga classes, Artnet News reports. These were just a few of 70-odd cultural institutions that had worn different hats that day.
Dutch museum turned into sport school for the day to protest against what they call unfair Covid restrictions. Museums and Theaters remain closed while sport schools, hair salons and shops are allowed to open #haarlem #franshalsmuseum #covid19 #netherlands pic.twitter.com/pVuQMB2cDX— Step Vaessen (@stepvaessen) January 19, 2022
Visitors who came for treatments and workout sessions were required to present vaccination proof or negative COVID-19 test results, as well as keep their masks on and maintain a safe distance from one another.
A barber named Mischa, who participated in this protest, told the BBC it was “crazy” how “people can be in a supermarket with 300 people” while roomy galleries were not allowed to be open.
Marianna, a customer who had her nails done at the Van Gogh Museum, expressed remorse that the nation’s cultural identity was being silenced. “Everyone is in a dark mood; my 11-year-old daughter looks depressed.”
“If you take away cultural expression, gathering, then what are we here for, what’s left?”
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