Dutch art circles globe as museum revamp drags on

Fri May 15, 2009 11:24am EDT
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By Elke Bun

AMSTERDAM (Reuters Life!) - A renovation process that is bogged down in permit delays means Dutch art treasures will be without a permanent home for years, the director of Amsterdam's famed Rijksmuseum told Reuters.

Wim Pijbes said the process has been overly complicated, if not well-intentioned. The museum has needed permission to do things as simple as moving trees.

In the meantime, the city estimates the economic damage from the delays at between 4.5 million and 9.6 million euros ($6.09 million-$13 million).

Close to 2,000 art objects from the collection are on show in about 120 museums in countries from Spain to Canada. But Amsterdam's collection at home remains limited as the revamp, which started in 2003, has faced delays and is unlikely to be completed before 2013.

"It's a shame that it is taking so long, because the country's most important museum has not been able to use its building for 10 years," Pijbes said.

"But it's important that the collection is still shown during the renovation. We aim to store no more art than usual during the refurbishment."

While a side wing still displays some of the highlights, such as Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch' and Jan Vermeer's 'The Kitchenmaid', problems securing building contractors and permits is keeping the rest of the museum shut.

More than 80 permits had to be plowed through for every last detail of the refurbishment. Meetings with groups such as the bike lobby were also required.   Continued...

<p>The world famous painting De Nachtwacht by Rembrandt van Rijn is wheeled out of the Rijksmuseum by a moving company to its new, temporary, destination in Amsterdam December 11, 2003. REUTERS/Michael Kooren</p>