“Nude” Dikkie Scipio – ZAAL Z number 5
The building work has been completed, demolition can begin. We are gradually revealing what has remained hidden for so long. The museum will later be completely exposed, showing us its true beauty before we dress it again for the 21st century.
The building work has been completed, demolition can begin. This statement seems to be paradoxical, so perhaps some explanation is in order. Up until now, the overriding focus has been on building the new art storage centre at the museum’s bomb-proof heart and then creating a route to transfer the works of art that were being stored in the museum to the new art depot. Although the museum’s original layout comprised of a sequence of rooms through which visitors could pass, its natural flow became blocked by the multiple uses that were added to the museum over the years. Directly above the entrance for example, one of the most beautiful and monumental wings became home to a number of very large works of art that, mysteriously had made their way into the space, but were now impossible to remove without cutting away parts of the walls. And so we sawed.
The paintings from the Rubens Gallery were able to be lifted through the hatch in the storage centre. For a few moments each painting, of tremendous value as a work of art, was no more than the sum of its weight and dimensions. Never before have so many of these works been seen from the back: a Rubens that was just a heavy colossus consisting of a number of wood panels – with a carved Hand of Antwerp – bound together by large iron bars. Its construction was like that of a building: monumental and solid. This is the ethos we will return to.
The galleries are now empty and, without the works on the walls, appear even larger than before. In the 19th century, a walk in the museum was like a walk in the park. There was no climate control, nor even electricity. The museum simply closed its doors when darkness fell. Systems were later installed for the comfort of the public and the well-being of the art, but these are now outdated. We are removing them just as we are removing everything else that has accumulated in the museum over the years. We are gradually revealing what has remained hidden for so long. Soon the museum will be completely stripped and exposed, showing us its true beauty before we dress it again for the 21st century.
You can download the PDF version via the link down here and you’ll find Dikkie Scipio’s article from page 17.PDF