We Hijacked the Rijksmuseum (and Got Away With It)

The Huffington Post called it a ‘beautiful prank: hijacking the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam with the virtual exposition ‘Paint Job’. Merry prankster Mark Goede of creative team Brilliant After Breakfast explains how they pulled it off. “Welcome to our show!”

For those who find classical museums somewhat of a yawn – we do to. This is why we decided to hijack the Rijksmuseum with our project ‘Paint Job’. I mean, you can leave that freaking painting on the wall for another century, or you can do something with it.

The increased digital creativity makes it possible to experience things differently. Also within the art world. We liked to raise questions and ‘Paint Job’ was the first step towards answering these questions. How can we bridge the gap between ancient works of art and modern day society? How can we make historical works relevant in the current context? What is copyright in 2012, and what about remix-creativity? What is the relationship between the public and institutions in the light of increased digital creativity?

When we visit a museum, we are forced to watch what’s already on display, to walk a certain line. To a new generation, this no longer works. We need to feel that we are part of the experience, being able to fast forward, rewind or pause. To a new generation, the new language is that art is a remix of creativity, and culture is not only out there in a museum, but always within reach via our phone, iPad or computer. In this way, classical art is brought to our present-day lives. We were bored with visiting a museum and finding the experience more and more not in tune with the interactive, social-media lived world we live in. We wanted to make it all a little more interesting. It’s difficult to look at a famous painting as if you’re seeing it for the first time when its image has been part of your education, and your ideas on art.

Of course, you can leave your museum the way it is – tourists will keep visiting anyway. Whether they take a close look at the paintings, or only make a snapshot of the

‘institution’ so they can show everyone they’ve ‘seen’ The Night Watch, is another thing. But you can also make the ancient works more interesting by making them more interactive. This way, museums could be attracting a whole new audience. A younger one.

By developing ‘Paint Job’ we wanted to make the audience aware of the fact that The Night Watch is more than just an old painting in an old museum, it’s also very much part of our modern-day world. Suddenly, the famous painting of the corpses of the De Witt brothers is brought into a new dimension. A new meaning. A new layer. Function. Suddenly, the painting can be related to capital punishment. And you can do that in a lot of different ways. We wanted to remix the traditional art experience.


How it worked: Viewers downloaded a Layar Reality Browser smartphone app for the exhibition that revealed commentary or hidden messages on the classical works. Deriving playful and unexpected plots to connect historical art with the modern world, Brilliant After Breakfast takes cues from social media and fast-paced technology to remix the traditional art experience.


Rijksmuseum hijack - Bartholomeus van der Helst, Banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in Celebration of the Peace of Munster

Rijksmuseum hijack - Bartholomeus van der Helst, Banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in Celebration of the Peace of Munster

Bartholomeus van der Helst, Banquet of the Amsterdam Civic Guard in Celebration of the Peace of Münster, 1648.

De-magere-Compagnie-1

Rijksmuseum hijack - Frans Hals -- De Magere Compagnie

Frans Hals, De Magere Compagnie (finished by Pieter Codde), 1637.

Rijksmuseum hijack - Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, The Departure of a Senior Functionary from the Port of Middelburg

Rijksmuseum hijack - Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, The Departure of a Senior Functionary from the Port of Middelburg

Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, The Departure of a Senior Functionary from the Port of Middelburg, 1615.

Rijksmuseum hijack - Gerard van Honthorst, The Merry Fiddler

Rijksmuseum hijack - Gerard van Honthorst, The Merry Fiddler

Gerard van Honthorst, The Merry Fiddler, 1623.

Rijksmuseum hijack - Bartholomeus van der Helst, Gerard Andriesz. Bicker

Rijksmuseum hijack - Bartholomeus van der Helst, Gerard Andriesz. Bicker

Bartholomeus van der Helst, Gerard Andriesz Bicker, c. 1639.

Rijksmuseum hijack - Jan de Baen, The Bodies of the Brothers De Witt

Rijksmuseum hijack - Jan de Baen, The Bodies of the Brothers De Witt

Jan de Baen, The Bodies of the Brothers De Witt, c. 1672–1675.

Rijksmuseum hijack - Rembrandt, The Night Watch

Rijksmuseum hijack - Rembrandt, The Night Watch

Rembrandt, The Night Watch or The Shooting Company of Frans Banning Cocq, 1642.

Rijksmuseum hijack - Rembrandt, The Syndics of the Drapers' Guild

Rijksmuseum hijack - Rembrandt, The Syndics of the Drapers' Guild

Rembrandt, Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild, 1662.

Rijksmuseum hijack - Hendrick Averkamp, Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters

Rijksmuseum hijack - Hendrick Averkamp, Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters

Hendrick Averkamp, Winter Landscape with Ice Skaters, c. 1608.

Mark Goede is a freelance copywriter and concept thinker. ‘Paint Job’ is a project of Brilliant after Breakfast, a creative team consisting of Goede and Robert Overweg. For more information or inqueries, visit www.brilliantafterbreakfast.com.

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