Sharing a secret

If you’ve been to Dresden or live there, you know about this secret. The secret is currently being shared by Dresden with the Groninger Museum. Lost you?

The museum is located in the town of Groningen, in the province of Groningen, in one of those EU countries where there’s not enough room to swing a cat.

Groningen and Dresden

I’m not that fond of the mini country in which Groningen province lies. I’m quite fond of Groningen, which is a lively university town. It has a rich history, historic buildings, nice town centre. It also has a good Saturday market, as well as plenty shopping streets. And if you’re a cat: it’s just a swing from Amsterdam.

So when I was recently dragged off to Groningen, I didn’t mind it a bit. It’s one of those places where I feel at home. Provided there’s no earthquake. The province regularly quakes, because the Dutch extract natural gas at Slochteren. No, don’t even try pronouncing it, when the NYT has problems spelling it correctly.

The Groninger Museum is right across the road from the town’s main train station. It’s not a big museum, but like other Groninger buildings: architecturally interesting. Arriving by train? Don’t forget to admire the train station’s Art Nouveau hall.

As for Dresden: when the Kings of Saxony made it their capital, they created an exquisite Baroque and Rococo town and cultural hub. Fire storms totally devastated it during the Second World War. Fortunately, much has been restored.

Dresden’s Electors and Kings not only spent lavishly on architecture. Like Russian Empress Catherine the Great, they were avid collectors. Dresden ended up owning impressive art collections.

These Kunstsammlungen are Dresden’s secret. A selection of paintings from Dresden’s Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister is the secret, currently revealed at the Groninger Museum.

The “Secret of Dresden” exhibition

Never having visited Dresden before and it not being on my 2015 to-do lists, this exhibition was my first introduction and probably this years only “visit to Dresden”.

Being familiar with the Groninger museum built by architect Alessandro Mendini, I hopped down its beautiful staircase. The exhibition is located below waterlevel. Don’t believe this? Read the architectural information on the Groninger Museum website.

The exhibition sprawls over six rooms. There were beautiful paintings of Dresden and the river Elbe. There were captivating scenes depicting Venice and other cities. There were romantic landscapes and beautiful portraits. The exhibition’s calling card was part of an odd collection of “mood” portraits.

There are not only Canaletto‘s to be admired. There is Rembrandt’s beautiful “Ganymede being carried off by Zeus”. I liked the still-lives by a talented female painter. She taught at Dresden’s Academy of Fine Arts.

So there was plenty to admire and enjoy. My overall impression was, that the Kings of Saxony certainly were certainly avid collectors. But Catherine the Great possessed the funds to ensure the best paintings ended up in her Hermitage.

You may be impressed, but the “Secret of Dresden” exhibition somewhat disappointed me. I visited far more impressive exhibitions at this museum. So if you’re unable to visit Dresden, yet have a day to discover Groningen, do visit this exhibition. But make sure you’ve plenty time to become acquainted with this town, its friendly people, historic buildings, interesting shops, and lively Saturday market.

Useful information

The exhibition “The Secret of Dresden” can be seen at the Groninger museum till the end of May. For visitor information: Groninger Museum.

At the local tourist information office, you’ll not only find information about the town of Groningen. They also have information about local salt mining and what to do in Groningen province: Tourist Information Groningen.

Dutch NS intercity trains run between Groningen and Amsterdam and many other major Dutch towns. Cats and other explorers can click here: NS National Travelplanner.

 

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