Three Amsterdam Museums: A Critical Analysis

I guess I have not updated much lately.  I got kind of busy with school.  Actually, I should be doing schoolwork right now, but I don’t want to.  So I’m gonna blog!

In my efforts to refrain from saying every little detail about what I do in my life, I’m going to focus this post on a review of a couple of museums I visited lately.  But first I want to share some pictures of when Ole Martin, George, and I went looking for an adventure in the Jordaan part of Amsterdam.  It was a beautiful day, and the sun was setting, and though we didn’t exactly find adventure, we did find a set of bike keys lying next to a bike.  Which, in Amsterdam, is kind of a big deal.  But don’t worry, we didn’t steal it.  We only thought about it.

Uh, yes, I went across the road to take a picture of my bike. It’s my baby!

HELP

Okay, so the real part of the blog.  Last Saturday I went to a couple of museums in Amsterdam, and I think you guys should know about them.  They were:

1) The Amsterdam Historical Museum

2) The Cannabis College (not really a museum, but we’ll get to that)

3) The Hash, Marihuana and Hemp Museum.

Before you start thinking I am a huge stoner or something, let me tell you that I had to do a presentation on the history of coffeeshops in Amsterdam.  So I was doing research, of course.  Man, it’s great going to school here.  Anyway…

The Amsterdam Historical Museum is amazing.  I had been there once before because it was assigned in my Dutch history class, but I went again by myself because it is awesome.  As I am sure is obvious from my other posts about museums, I like museums with a lot of interactivity (AKA buttons to push and videos to watch) and I dislike museums that are too quiet or just have a bunch of stuff to read.  The AHM is totally interactive, and I love it.  There are the usual interactive things, like pushing a button to listen to a recording, but there are also stationary bikes that you pedal to start a slideshow on the wall, and a big wall of buttons that play Surinamese rap songs, and outside there is a big box that looks like a Red Light District window.  You get inside and your friends take pictures of you looking like a hooker.  It’s great.

I believe that one of the best features of the Amsterdam Historical Museum is the amount of artwork displayed.  Not only do they have pieces of art from the 1600’s, but they have a great collection of early 20th century Dutch paintings.  No offense, but I easily become bored of seeing old guys wearing frilly collars and standing around.  I much prefer paintings that depict people getting drunk on the streets of Amsterdam in the 1920’s (see below).  Now that I can relate to.

The pictures of the paintings are quite dark because the flash would have washed them out.  It was a Catch-22, so just deal with it.  Trust me, they look good in real life.

As I mentioned earlier, I was doing research for my pot presentation, and this display about drugs in Amsterdam throughout the last century was really interesting and helpful.  On the left is a picture of heroin junkies being given needles of methadone by the cops.  On the right is a dealer’s stool from the Bulldog coffeeshop, and the bag is the dealer’s bag from the Mellow Yellow coffeeshop, which most people say was the first in Amsterdam.  A legend!

My favorite part of the whole museum was the display about the squatters riots.  I watched the whole video and later went home and looked stuff up about the riots.  It definitely made me want to riot about something.  What other history museum can say that they have inspired people to riot?

As you can see, I have nothing but good things to say about the Amsterdam Historical Museum.  Go!

Another fantastic…place of learning…is the Cannabis College.  The Cannabis College is an information center located in the Red Light District and has tons of information about weed.  Seriously.  Want to know all the uses for hemp?  Go to Cannabis College.  Want to know the specific legislation regarding marijuana in every country of the world?  Go to Cannabis College.  Want to take a tour of a grow room?  Go to Cannabis College (though I can’t vouch for the tour because it cost 3 Euros.  And I’m cheap.  But I’m sure it’s excellent).

My mother and I at the Cannabis College

I had gone to the Cannabis College, mostly as a joke, when my mom and Aunt Kelly came to visit me.  But when I had to find information for my pot presentation, I thought I should go back.  I took George with me, and I think he liked it too.  I sat him down with a giant notebook labeled “Best Coffeeshops” and asked the guy working for information on the history of coffeeshops.  He bent over backwards to help me, and even though the college did not have much information specifically relating to the history of coffeeshops, he gave me a binder on weed legislation in the Netherlands, and one on the policy of drug tolerance in the Netherlands.  While I started looking through those, he went to the bookshelf and got me two books specifically about the history of coffeeshops.  He was so helpful and awesome and did anything he could to help me.  He also got out his iphone and used the map to help George find a certain coffeeshop.  The guy recommended an organic coffeeshop, and we got into a discussion about the differences between organic and non-organic weed.  He said, “Sometimes non-organic weed tastes really chemically because of the pesticides they put on it.  Some people with higher consumption rates than me can tell from the first hit whether or not the weed is organic.”  To that I said, “So, you’re telling me you work at the Cannabis College but you don’t have a high consumption rate?”  He replied, “Just because you work at a cafe doesn’t mean you have fifteen espressos a day.”  Funny and helpful!  Any of you stoners out there need a boyfriend?

I got some useful information for my presentation at the Cannabis College, so then we decided to head a few doors down to the Hash, Marijuana, and Hemp Museum.

Don’t waste your time with this place.  It was so expensive (9 Euros!) and looked like someone had just gotten high and put random pictures of weed on the wall…oh wait.  That’s probably exactly what happened.  The museum is run by the guy who owns Sensi Seed company, so it’s basically a giant advertisement for their products.  There is no system of organization to the museum.  At first I thought it was organized chronologically, because there were pictures and drawings from like the 1800’s of Indians and Indonesians smoking.  But then there was this big poster of the human body with little joints painted on it for every part of the body that smoking weed can benefit.  Then there was a display about the American war on drugs, with pictures of families torn apart because the parents were sent to jail for growing or smoking weed.  I totally agree that our country’s stance on the use of marijuana is completely ridiculous, misguided, and does more harm than good, but I’m not going to print off overly emotional testimonies from the internet and charge people 9 euros to see it.  One of the reasons weed is still illegal in America is because the stoners do stupid things like this to try to get it legalized.  No one is going to be like, “Ohhhh, now I see the face of the war on drugs.  Now that I’ve seen an actual family affected by it, I’m going to change my position to pro-legalization.”  They will think the same thing that I thought.  Those people were stupid to risk their families by growing enough weed to get them sent to jail for 90 years.  Smoke weed, become an activist for legalization, do what you will.  But don’t take a family portrait wearing a Bob Marley shirt and a rastafarian hat and expect to not be caught growing weed in your house.  (True story, one of the “faces of the drug war” was wearing the aforementioned outfit at an Olan Mills-style photo session with his wife and two young kids.)

George and I both agreed that the museum was completely random and lacking in organization and focus.  It jumped around too much (Here’s a thing made out of hemp!  Here’s a guy that loves weed!  Here’s a joint I rolled!) and I think they got too high to remember to keep putting descriptions by things, because after a while nothing was labeled.  If it had seemed random before, it was ridiculous after they stopped labeling things.

All in all, I feel that the Marihuana, Hash, and Hemp Museum does a disservice to the cannabis cause.  Anyone who went in there not blazed out of their minds would not be able to take it seriously.  Then they might think that if everyone was allowed to get stoned, then the world would look something like this museum, and they would immediately write to their congressperson in support of full prohibition.

The Cannabis College, on the other hand, is a valuable resource.  You can just tell the people there are knowledgeable, and they actually care about educating people because I think they are all volunteers since the college runs on donations only…unlike the guy working at the Marihuana Museum, who continued to smoke his joint while he took my 9 euros and indifferently handed me my ticket.  So basically, if you visit Amsterdam, for sure go to the Amsterdam Historical Museum, for sure go to the Cannabis College, and for sure get as far away from the Marihuana, Hash, and Hemp Museum as you possibly can.

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9 responses to “Three Amsterdam Museums: A Critical Analysis

  1. I don’t like to be excluded from the “real part of the blog”! haha We should go to the science museum one day. They use to have a lot of interactivity.

  2. after all the exhaustive research….how did your presentation go? did your professor and/or class appreciate your thoughtful analysis? you are so funny and smart and i want you to be sure and go to the science museum with ole martin.
    imagine the fun!

    • andtheampersand

      My class loved the presentation, especially since I showed a picture of a baby smoking a joint and said, “the Netherlands don’t have, like, a nation-wide D.A.R.E. program or anything” and then had to explain the reference to my professor and the 2 chinese girls in class. But it was funny to hear the whole class join in and say everything they remembered about D.A.R.E., like “Turn a cold shoulder” and “Strength in Numbers.” Indoctrination at its finest!

  3. Well, you sure named that one appropriately! I hope the science museum is better maintained then ours. Otherwise, the interactive becomes inactive. It sounds like the guy at the college was quite helpful! Can you see the volcano ash from there? That was random…
    Love ya and miss ya! Glad you are having fun!
    Your favorite aunt, Linda

  4. Favorite A Kelly

    Did you pass out samples during your presentation?! Did the guy at Cannibus College teach you how to roll? I forgot to show you how while I was there!!!
    Good Blog! LOL! Tell the boys I said Hi!
    love you
    k

  5. Mary,
    Name the place and cause–I’m down for a good riot! I am enjoying all of your mom’s pics. Love you!
    Becky

  6. You are never going to be elected in this country. Unless you become a libertarian like me – they are over the war on drugs too. Miss you sister – I am going to type you a long note about all the boring stuff going on around here. Oh wait! Tony is bringing the laptop home today so we can skype for a few days!

    • andtheampersand

      Why wait to be elected when you can take power via a rebel coup? That is my plan, at least. If you thought this post was bad, just wait til I get to the one about renouncing my citizenship as a political protest!

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