Finally, after a two-year break, today was the day for an excursion with pupils to a museum. The destination the Kunstmuseum (formally the Gemeentemuseum) in the Hague in the morning, with an afternoon visit to the Mauritshuis. I’ve certainly missed these occasional cultural trips out, but our pupils too. The group with us today were all 15-17 year olds who have chosen art as a final exam subject. The the Corona-forced suspension of days out have meant that many of these pupils have missed out on first-hand cultural experiences that in more normal times we all take very much for granted. Two years with no trips that have taken them out beyond the familiarity of the classroom.
Once inside our first museum, taking a look at the extensive collection of Mondrian paintings it was kind of clear to see, the pupils were enthusiastically lapping it up. So much of the extra-curricular activities have recently been lost to us all in education, it was both refreshing and encouraging to see the response. No assignments were needed, they just wanted to look and to wander round for close to two hours, on what was for many, a first visit to one of the ‘cathedrals’ of Dutch art.
After a lunchbreak in the icy cold town centre it was off to the Mauritshouse and a chance to see Vermeer’s Girl with the Pearl Earring, View of Delft and then on to Rembrandt’s Anatomy Lesson. Our young cultural sponges still seemed to be soaking it all up, this time with the help of a museum guide.
Such a day out, with three teachers and forty or so pupils is a necessary luxury. It is this sort of day that the pupils will remember and will bring their art history textbooks to life. Staring out Rembrandt in his last self-portrait or seeing Mondrian’s meticulous steps from figuration to abstraction. It is often a revelation for our pupils, a discovery of just how interesting a museum can be, even on a Friday afternoon!
Oh, how I have missed these excursion days during the last two years!