Friday, April 1, 2011

The Vermeer Conspiracy.

This is "Girl with a wineglass" by Johannes Vermeer.  As I've written earlier, I'm on an ongoing quest: Wanting to see each one of Vermeer's (known) paintings in the world.  
Well, this one I haven't seen yet.  I was going to, but there seem to be a conspiracy, or a secret, hidden force which doesn't want me to see it.  Just listen:
Monday February 29th 2011 my family and I came to Germany with the ferryboat from Oslo.  We were going to France, to stay there for a month, and ahead of us we had two days of driving.  This first day, mainly spent on the Autobahn (freeway) we were going to make a detour, go to Braunschweig where "Girl with a wineglass" is exposed.  On the road, I had my husband check the internet on his mobile phone, just to see if there was something we ought to know about the museum, and sure enough, there was something.  The museum was closed on Mondays.
Well.  I was able to turn my mind around rather quickly, since we were going back in a month, after all, and we would just have to schedule Braunschweig on our trip back home.
So we did.  And, on March 30th 2011, (my 40th birthday to boot!..) we made our detour from the Autobahn, finding our way into Braunschweig.  Amazingly effortless, we found the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, a big, beautiful building in Italian Renaissance style from the 1880's,  I parked the car, and jumped out, didn't wait for my family, just grabbed my youngest and stepped quickly towards one of the grand staircases, placed on either end of the facade.  Well, the first entrance was obviously for the museum administration, so I continued to the other one, on the far end of the building.  Taking pictures of my 3-year-old on the stairs, I was bubbling with excitement, waiting for the rest of my crew.
The door was locked.
My husband called the museum from his cell phone.  He only got the cafeteria people on the phone,  and they could tell us that the museum was CLOSED.   What?  But, why?  Well, they didn't know.
This is where I usually start falling apart. (Oh yes, I'm not emotionally very strong, not at all, believe me!)  But, I saw a woman stepping up the other flight of stairs, keys in hand, and I sprinted over there, just in time before she locked herself in.  She looked at me, puzzled, and I guessed I looked somewhat strange, running like crazy, red face, my hair all over the place.  Panting, I asked her if it was true, that the museum was closed, and she answered, -but of course it is.  It has been for several years, due to the renovation.

Breathe.  Remember to breathe.  -But, I said.  -you can't just do that, and not tell on the website!  Then I started telling her about my Vermeer quest, about us coming to Braunschweig only to see this painting, and I was almost in tears when she interrupted me: -But the main works of art are temporarily exposed in a castle called the Burg Dankwarderode.  -So my "Girl with a wineglass" is there?  -Sure it is, she answered, smiling.  Then she told me how to get there, and we decided to leave the car and walk the short distance, since the weather was lovely, and we had been driving for hours.  I thanked the woman, and praised myself lucky for having seen her.  We could have just given up, gone back to the car without knowing about the temporary exhibit.  
We walked through a huge shopping mall called Sloss-arcaden,  arrived on a big open space, and there, on the other side of the tram tracks, we saw the medieval towers of the Burg Dankwarderode.  I wanted to fly, was so eager to finally see the painting, 
but then, approaching the castle, I can see a crowd of people standing there, behind "do not cross"-tape.  

Do not cross?  What on earth is going on here?
What was going on, was a Hollywood movie production.  For one day only, today, my 40th birthday, the castle was closed, because it was used as a backdrop for the movie.

After talking to somebody who came out from the area, I was let in, on the other side of the tape, and I got to plead my case to the movie people.  They listened to my story, really felt my despair, but they couldn't help me, since they didn't have the keys, and the museum people had taken the day off.
And adding to the irony:  The director, Tommy Wirkola, is Norwegian...

Do you believe me when I think there has to be a conspiracy or some strange force stopping me from seeing this painting? Well, what is even more strange is that I was actually just mildly annoyed, not angry, and I'm sure I'll see the painting some day.  I have to.  We had an ice cream, enjoying the view of a beautiful town we now knew a little bit about, and before we headed back to the car, I was interviewed by the local newspaper, by a journalist who heard about my story.  Here is a pdf of the article:

By the way.  The movie is "Hansel and Gretel: Wich Hunters" 

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