Written by Weeri

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Do kids enjoy museums nowadays?

My 9-year-old niece Krystal told us she likes looking at old things. So, instead of giving her a birthday present, my girlfriend Mandy and I decided to take her to the biggest and most famous museum in The Netherlands: Het Rijksmuseum. House to Vermeer’s Melkmeisje, the Nightwatch, and Vincent van Gogh’s self-portrait. When I was 9, I surely didn’t like museums. Hopefully, it’s different for Krystal.

We thought we were smart by going to the museum on a weekday. Surely, museums are busier on the weekends, right? Well, not if it’s a school holiday. Now I know how sardines must feel in a can.

Anyhow, unsure if Krystal would really love the museum, we booked a puzzle tour. Everyone gets a headphone and a tiny tablet. A friendly guy on the screen lays out the rules. Unfortunately, the maximum volume of the earphones couldn’t overpower the rowdiness of the crowds. Luckily, Krystal seems to know exactly what we have to do.

We follow Krystal and the puzzle tour leads us to some of the most iconic and valuable Dutch masterpieces. We were lucky to see the Nightwatch, Vermeer’s Milk Girl, and even a unique historical artifact—a pot once used as a female urination device.

With each correct answer, we got a new piece of the puzzle to solve. After an hour of intense puzzling, we cracked the final riddle, and Krystal was rewarded with a special detective prize. However, there was a slight pickle.

As I mentioned earlier, the Rijksmuseum is the largest museum in the Netherlands. It is advised to reserve 4 to 5 hours to explore its wonders fully. Obviously, one hour was not enough for Mandy and me to read all the tiny letters next to the interesting paintings while solving a puzzle mystery. On top of that, the puzzle tour didn’t lead us to arguably the world’s most famous painter: Vincent van Gogh.

Unsure if Krystal would still want to see the other half of the museum, Mandy and I devised a plan. First, we bribed Krystal with hot chocolate and a cake. We then made sure she was all rested up for the next round of the museum marathon. We topped it off by offering Krystal the opportunity to take part in the Disney puzzle drawing tour in the hopes of encountering Vincent van G.

Drawing is Krystal’s favorite hobby after playing in the playground, so she didn’t hesitate to answer. The idea of the Disney drawing tour is that you have to find details on artifacts and make drawings of what you see. Looking at how Krystal is running from room to room, there’s no sign of fatigue.

We make swift progress in the drawing tour, passing some new and previously encountered rooms. As we are 3/4ths through the tour, we only have 30 minutes left before the museum closes. Sure, time flies when you’re having fun. But still, there was no sign of Vincent.

Now, I’m starting to get a bit nervous. With only 20 minutes left after Krystal finishes her last quest, we ask her for a favor. Although we can see her legs start moving less coordinated, she doesn’t complain. “We had a drawing class about Vincent van Gogh at school,” she says. It’s difficult for her to explain what makes his painting style so different, but I believe that she knows that Vincent wasn’t an ordinary fellow.

We were able to get this shot just before the museum closed. From 12:00 to 18.00, we were able to do two puzzle tours and see the most famous paintings of the Netherlands. Not bad, if you ask me.

I’m not sure if Krystal really paid attention to the “old things” she claims to like looking at. Maybe she liked the puzzles more. At least she has some stories to tell at school. And when she grows up, I’m sure she will look back at this day with a smile. Maybe not because of the priceless paintings. But just, for having a good time at the big museum.

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