At the 13th of April, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam will open again. The redesigning of the museum is already much praised. In the room of the twenties, ‘Philips radio’ of Joris Ivens will be shown permanently as an icon for modernism. Besides the paintings of Piet Mondriaan, the chairs of Gerrit Rietveld, the photographs of Man Ray and a real airplane of Frits Koolhoven, the pictures of ‘Philips Radio’ -the first sound film in the Netherlands- reveals how the country changed in a modern industrial society.
The Rijksmuseum has always been a national treasure house, which is showing art and history as one unit. That kind of presentation choked with the art pieces of the beginning of the 20th century. Because of new purchases and borrowings of the Rijksmuseum, it became possible to make a completely new setup about the 20th century. New forms of art, like photography, film and design are now just important as older art forms. Harm Stevens, curator of the 20th century exhibition: “We show films like autonomous art. So no abridgements but integral”. The decoration is sober and modest. There are no digital adornments. “The art and the materials have to tell the story. The artistic and historical standard is defined by the rest of the museum and this is very high. We choose iconic pictures and classics”.
Philips Radio is known as the ‘Modern Times’ of the Netherlands, apart from the humour in Chaplins’ film. Thousands of poor peasants from the province of Brabant, of which their parents lived in the middle ages and were eternalized in Van Goghs ’de Aardappeleters’, came as workers in the factories of Philips. Their radio’s brought mass-communication and the breakthrough of cultural and mental borders.