Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Museon (The Hague)

During the winter vacations we planned to visit the Museon in The Hague. The Museon is a popular science museum  with educational purposes and an enormous collection (260,000 objects) for the stimulation of the children's minds.  It is divided into five areas of interest: Geology, Anthropology, Biology and Environment, History and Archaelogy, Nature and Technique. My husband still had cards from Holland Pass since the summer and we decided to use it to get some discount for this attraction. Luckily the queues were not long, and we headed immediately to the ground floor exposition: Plantastic, the magic world of plants.

We soon realized that this was rather for little kids. There are interactive displays with flowers, seeds, roots, fruits... My little girl liked it a lot, but my son was after one hour a bit bored and wanted rather to go up to the first floor, where the skeletons and crsytals were.
These huge giraffes make a sort of "link"between the ground floor and the first floor. Near the giraffes there were boards with explanations of what/how they eat and what leaves they look for.

Still on the ground floor there was a workshop being announced: Origami for kids between 7 and 12 years old. Unfotunately my little girl couldn't take part on it becasue she is not 7 yet. But... c'mon ! She is an origami expert already. She should be teaching the other (older) kids. She is really intereted in making three dimensional objects with paper and sculptures with her own hands. She folds and cut paper every day. Every day.

Another workshop was this one: to make decorative paper plates.
These metal dresses were part of an old workshop.

On the extreme left side of the ground floor there was a "Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011" exposition . The competition is organised by BBC Wildlife magazine together with the Natural History Museum in London. I was allowed to take photos of them. They are far, far prettier than you can enjoy here. No way I could get even closer to the beauty of the colour and the impact they cause. This first photo below is called "The Assassin". It is incredible that several different photographers around the world could register these special moments. Luckily next to each photo there was a long description (in Dutch and English) of how the photographer could capture each moment, under which conditions and where in the world.
The photographer was looking for a location in the Pacific for some photo clicks when he suddenly realized this area was full of seastars. He decided to click the place when he noticed the mysterious spirals being formed.

That's scary that the photographer was in the water as well, and so close to this polar bear.

As much as I remember, it took months (almost a year)  for the photogpher until he could get the trust of this wolf. One day the wolf was comfortable enough to remain quiet and very close to the photographer. That's when he could take a snapshot.

Some pics à la National Geographic style...
The photo above with the pelicans is from Daniel Beltrá, from Spain.
The photographer take a pic a his own son admiring a bat who came seing for some flies.
Beautiful indeed and this photo has won many prizes.
You can admire these photos above up to the 4th of March 2012. Winning photographs are available to buy as prints. Check here for more info, while the link lasts !
Aaahhh... I love black and white. This one above I find lovely !
Now on the first floor: it was rather for what older kids. Lots and lots of minerals and crystals from around the world, huge skeletons of scary animals, rooms with expositions about the skimos and their lifstyle, replicas of a Neanderthal woman and a Homo Erectus, big primates and small primates, big monkeys and small monkeys. This family above was reconstructed from skeletons and skull remains. They were hunters and collectors who lived in the area now known as the Lowlands.  

There is also a large room about the Roman times in the Netherlands. They occupied mostly the central and the south of the area, and brought many new eating and clothing habits. There is a wall with huge photos of the many foods they introduced in Northern Europe - and the many local produce they have incorporated in their diet as well. Also a huge book with famous recipes and ood ingredients according to Apicius recommendations.
Another pretty work: this angelic boy was reconstructed after skull,skeleton and clothing findings.
There were many other rooms on the first floor about ecology, main immigrant groups in the Netherlands, the Dutch emigration to the USA, Canada and Australia after the WWII, Islam and religion, African war weapons. We visited all of them, except a room called "Children in regions at War", because just the title of the this exposition revolted my stomach. So we told the kids it was time to leave - and indeed it was.
To finish this post I let the readers with a piece of a poem I have found projected into one of the columns at the Museon. There was no author and it sounds better in Dutch than in the English translation. But then I think in English  you can get the "spirit"of it as well.

The Winner Takes All

Swearing, hitting, killing...
Fighting is part of life
Such as eating, making love - quite normal

"That's right !", say the biologists
"Fighting is part of nature's way.
The strong survive, the weakest die."

"Come on !", cry the philosopers
"We are not wild beasts;
Fighting is unicvilised and dumb;
Discuss your differences, do not fight."

"Drivel !", Say the psychologists
"Know yourself.
You fight because you fear."

We fear the cold and the heat
and hunger, thirst, poverty and loneliness.
Power, humiliation, exclusion and death
Fear leads to hate

Hate is never holy, war is never just
For strife breeds only victims
and winners lose the most
It is war-war or jaw-jaw in palaces and village squares
We must make laws, set rules,
For all our sakes

Stadhouderslaan 37
2517HV Den Haag

Public Transport:

Bus 24, direction Kijkduin
Tram 17, direction Statenkwartier
Bus 21, from Scheveningen


Tom Le Mesurier said...

Wow, I love the wildlife photos! Incredible. I try to feel inspired by these (and usually it works), but occasionally I can't help feeling downhearted - how could I ever do anything even half as good?! Still, I love to look at the incredible images from nature.

This looks like an amazing museum. Out of interest, I wonder if there was a charge to enter the museum or to view the exhibitions?

Anita said...

Glad to hear that from you !
I imagine (or read somewhere) you are a biologist ???
I feel also humiliated and fascinated about those pics. Pareço uma fotógrafa lambe-lambe, hehe. But then you cannot compare these professionals with simple mortals like us. Most of them work for big magazines and are specialized in a certain geographical area of nature. They have probably been into expeditions and tried hundreds of thousands of shots before they have "THE one".

About the entrance fees:
Adults: € 10,00
Seniors (65+) € 9,00
CJP-pas € 6,00
Children: 0-3 year FREE
4 - 11y. € 5,50
12 - 18y. € 7,00
Family card (2 ad./2 kids up to 11 y.old) € 30,00

Open from 11am to 5 pm, except on Mondays.

Tom Le Mesurier said...

Ah yes, in a former life I was a zoologist :) In fact I used to study the bird spreading its wings in the fourth picture.

I like all your reasons for why they are better photographs (and of course, they are true reasons). I expect that if we had all that amazing equipment and the time to dedicate to photography, we would produce some amazing results too!

I think I know the answer, but do you think it is a fair price for the museum entry?

Anita said...

Expensive or cheap is a relative concept.
We visited the places we have visited during the summer and the winter vacation because my husbands is friends with the founder of Holland Pass. So we got lots of discounts (Artis, Efteling, Hermitage, boat trips, Museon etc.).

Most people who frequently visit museums in the NL have a "Museum Card".
The Museon entrance is FREE for a museum card holder.

Tom Le Mesurier said...

Ah cool. I only asked because they made all the museums free in London about 10 years ago. On one hand I think it's great, but then I think of all the money that they are missing out on. Of course, if you want to buy a sandwich at the museum it will NOT be cheap! ;)

I think it is good to pay something to see a museum. I also think museums should be affordable for everyone. I would definitely pay 10 Euros to spend the day at a place like this, it looks great!

Anita said...

yes, when I visited the British Museum I paid it (it was January1998). I have bought there a replica of a little Greek vase which traveleled with me to Brasil - and I still have it with me in Holland. The museum shop at the British museum is great ! I didn't know ALL museums in London were free since one decade, WOW !! :)
If you are a tourist in the NL then it is better to buy a Holland Pass. Otherwise the entrance fees are going to hurt your pocket.

Tom Le Mesurier said...

Hmmm, I may not have the dates correct exactly. But yes, for some years all the main museums in London have been free (you do have to pay to see the special exhibitions though). The British Museum is a wonderful place. My friend worked there for many years so I used to get to all the exhibitions free! Britain has corruption too! Ha ha!