Art at Schiphol Airport

The journey home was, thankfully, less stressful than the outward trip, and I got to Amsterdam with time to spare for a trip to the airside art gallery. The theory goes something like this: air passengers have time that they don’t know how to fill and major art galleries have back rooms full of paintings that they don’t have space to display. So putting a small gallery in the transit area of a large airport is a win-win, especially when visitors have to enter and leave through the inevitable gift shop.

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Inside the airside art gallery at Schiphol Airport.

There is room for about twenty pictures, half of which form a rotating, themed exhibition so the occasional visitor such as myself always has something new to see. This visit comes just a month or so after the Rijksmuseum reopened after its major refurbishment and, perhaps to celebrate, there had been a complete re-hang in its airside offshoot. The Rijksmuseum’s embarrassment of riches is such that they can spare a portrait by Frans Hals for this show, along with works by other notables of the Dutch Golden Age such as Cornelius Springer. A few year’s ago, I even saw a Rembrandt here.

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Frans Hal’s Portrait of a man, possibly a clergyman at the airside art gallery at Schiphol Airport.

The contrast with Heathrow Terminal 5 always hits me when I’m here.  Schiphol has the inevitable designer boutiques but, somehow, manages to transcend Heathrow’s “shopping mall with aeroplanes” aura.  The National Gallery, surely, has just as many pictures in its store rooms but I could not envisage this ingenious outcome. The profit motive would, inevitably, get in the way.

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