Gods, perfection and dance: 12 great things to do in February

The entrance to the museum. Photo: Ronald Tilleman
Rembrandt, Portrait of the Apothecary Abraham Francen, 1655-1659. Amsterdam Museum

There is plenty of art and culture on offer this February – from the start of the Rembrandt celebrations to the 50th anniversary of man landing on the moon. Hanneke Sanou has some recommendations.

Meet Rembrandt the social networker
This year the Netherlands is celebrating 350 years of Rembrandt and the Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam, where the artist lived for 20 years, kicks of the festivities with an exhibition about the role of friends, relatives and patrons in his life.

Rembrandt  was a good networker although his luck ran out in the end and even powerful friends like collector Jan Six could not save him from penury.  The exhibition also explores Rembrandt’s relationship with the Uylenburgh family, childhood friend Jan Lievens and fellow-artist Roelant Roghman. Highlight is a portrait of Titus, his son, which has ever been shown in Europe before. From February 1. Website

Don’t drop that phone
The next best thing to outdoor skating is to go out for a bracing walk with the kids. Natuurmonumenten cunningly combines the youngsters’ love for their mobile phones with nature by showing them how to make the best photographs of flora and fauna. Feb 2 Website

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Take a shot at a canon
De Fundatie, the glittery-domed museum in Zwolle, has been making headlines in the art supplements by presenting a ‘canon’ of Dutch modern art in an exhibition called Freedom – Fifty key Dutch artworks from 1968. As one critic remarked, it’s the freedom to do anything in an era where there are no recognised art movements any more against which to rebel. Definitive or not,  the line-up contains plenty of Dutch artists to enjoy, among whom Rob Scholte and Tjebbe Beeman. Until May 12. Website

Watch this space
It’s 50 years since the Americans put a man on the moon. The John Adams Institute in Amsterdam celebrates the fact with David Eischer, editor of Astronomy Magazine, who will talk about the hard-fought space race between the US and the then Soviet Union. He will also have a chat with Dutch astronaut André Kuipers. February 6. Website

Come to the fair
Art Rotterdam is celebrating its 20th edition, focusing particularly on work by young artists. Many of the presentations take place at the Van Nellefabriek but there is plenty to in other corners of the city. There will be free buses to get you to the Museumpark, Vierhavensgebied and Kop van Zuid. February 7-10. For a full programme go to the website.

From last year’s Art Rotterdam show

Be dazzled by a pinball wizard
Jaqueline de Jong is hailed by the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam as a versatile artist who is equally at home with expressionism, contemporary figurative art and pop art.

The museum is presenting a retrospective of her works and explores her role in avant garde networks in and outside Europe. Pinball Wizard – The Work and Life of Jacqueline de Jong – the title should give you an idea of the kaleidoscopic range of the works – opens on February 9. Website

Don’t get too close
The Boijmans van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam honours Cor Westerik who died last year aged 94. Westerik’s figurative subjects became strange beasts in the artist’s hands and his extremely realistic close-up of a finger cut by a blade of grass, which was featured on Dutch trains when the NS still promoted culture, had to be removed because it made travellers queasy! From February 9. Website

Work up an appetite at the LAM museum
The Netherlands has a brand new museum. It is on the site of the Keukenhof bulb gardens but has nothing to do with flowers and everything with keukens, or kitchens.

The privately owned LAM museum, which opens its doors in February, is about food in art and is based on the collection of the Jan van den Broek, of supermarket fame. Fun exhibits include the Food Chain project for which artist Itamar Gilboa made white porcelain copies of everything he consumed in a year and a lifelike statue of a shopper (without Dirk bags) by Ron Mueck. The museum opens for four days a week, tickets and info on the website.

The entrance to the museum. Photo: Ronald Tilleman

Discover what perfect is
The English Theatre in The Hague presents a tale of ‘anticipation, disappointment, acceptance and love’ as a young boy awaits the birth of his baby sister who turns out to be disabled. Perfect is based on a book by Nichola Davies and illustrator Cathy Fisher and features puppetry and animations based on the book’s drawings. February 15 and 16. Website

Dance your life away
Requiem is a new work for the Dutch national ballet and opera company written by British choreopgrapher and former dancer David Dawson, in which he addresses the role of human spirituality caught inside the the body which must inevitably disappear. The double bill also features Dawson’s earlier Citizen Nowhere based on Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince. February 9, 16, 22, 23, 24 , 27. Website

Bow to the gods
It is probably not often that so many objects designed to stay in one place forever travelled so much. The current exhibition Gods of Egypt at Leiden’s Museum of Oudheden features antiquities from a multitude of European museums, all of them to do with the Egyptian way of death and the place of gods in society. The exhibits – statues, papyri, jewellery, sarcophagi – tell the story of how religious rituals guided the lives of the ancient Egyptians. Until March 31. Website

Shiver at the Madness of King Donald
Comedian Greg Shapiro, the voice of Donald Trump in the wildly successful Lubach video ‘The Netherlands Second’ is touring the country with a new one man show, based on the mental issues afflicting the current White House incumbent. Look for dates and venues here.

Last chance: World Press Photo
The best photos of the news events of 2018 as well as a multitude of other themes are on show at the World Trade Centre in Rotterdam.  Until February 10. Website

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