Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht

Bonnefantenmuseum, a brick edifice

The Bonnefantenmuseum is on Avenue Ceramique, near the John F Kennedybrug (bridge). They have a permanent collection of Old Masters, with modern exhibits changing periodically. For me, these comprised The Absence of Mark Manders, Jan Hendrix: Terra Firme and a couple of pieces by Grayson Perry in the main entrance (though these may be more permanent). One gallery – to show Scenes from the Anthropocene, very soon – was closed, though I still easily passed a couple of hours there.

Entry is 14 Euros for adults, or 16 if you offer to pay the suggested extra donation. There are two, large, floors to look round, and a smaller third. I headed straight for The Old Masters on the first floor, in that that’s where I found myself after walking up stairs.

Denijs Van Afsloot, Winter Landscape with Skaters
Denijs Van Afsloot, Winter Landscape with Skaters, 1615-1620.

It was initially a surprise, given that it is now 2020, to spot the plaques under several artworks, to the effect that they were stolen during the Second World War, and haven’t yet been reunited with owners, or their heirs.

Plaque under some pictures: After the Second World War, this art object has been reclaimed from Germany and is currently under the governance of the State of the Netherlands, and is pending for restitution to the rightful owners of their heirs.
Reclaimed from Germany.

The paintings are varied and beautiful. Some of the faces seemed a little odd to me, though.

I headed up the stairs to check that Mark Manders was not there, and found it as advertised. His work is designed as a self-portrait, in building form. I’m not well enough educated to have followed it, but I found it interesting, as it spread from large to small exhibits, with the repeating motif of a head with a block vertically shoved in it.

The museum encourage new artists, as evidenced by this installation, also on the second floor. It isn’t as effective without the noises.

Jan Hendrix is, like Mark Manders, a Dutch Artist. He has lived in Mexico since 1978, with his work shown here, focussing on the country’s fauna. The large tapestries were rich and it was tricky to resist the temptation to touch them (though I managed it).

Black and white tapestry, of plants growing
Jan Hendrix, Tapestry.
Artwork on the walls and in display cabinets
One room of the Hendrix exhibition. It includes some of his collaboration with Seamus Heaney.

Hendrix is friends with Seamus Heaney, and they have collaborated on some lavish-looking books, with the artwork supporting poetry and displayed here.

Finally in the museum, I wandered into Stanley Donwood’s The Optical Glade, and happily took advantage of the beanbags on the floor, which gave me a view of the roof. A group of children changed the atmosphere, from quiet and reflective to boisterous and lively, as they came in and did the same. The blurb informs you that the soundtrack was created by Thom Yorke, from sounds recorded in a forest. It’s very peaceful, and slightly trippy.

Black and white lines meet in the ceiling
Ceiling of The Optical Glade.

I enjoyed my visit, and recommend the museum thoroughly. If all the galleries are open, it might take another hour, but it isn’t totally exhausting to walk through it all, though I’m sure it would reward repeated visits.

On a sunny day, the river looked beautiful, and the streets of Maastricht were winding and welcoming.

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