Yesterday I took the train to Den Haag for Museumnaucht 2011. One wristband ticket granted you admission to as many exhibitions as you could squeeze out of the 8pm-12am evening. Almost every museum in the city participated with cocktails and music, funky outfits and thought-bending art. One was an experiential journey through the life of a refugee. We were given government documents personalized with our names and photos and we walked through a life-size house set to look like it was recently invaded by immigrant officials. At one point, we each sat in a small room for mock, although very intense, interrogations about our citizenship. Another museum offered a film exhibition; we entered a dark room with moving images on the walls, ceiling, and floor.
The ticket also granted us free entry into the House of Representatives government building, or the Tweede Kamer. We sat in the press seats to look down at the 150 Representative desks that fill the floor. What’s most interesting to me is that this room isn’t dominated by 2 major parties, with some noise from parties 3 or 4. No political party in Den Haag holds a majority of the Tweede Kamer seats on its own. Instead, parties form coalitions around issues – and often re-situate themselves and their allies based on certain legislation. People and their ideas seem much more kinetic and interactive, then, than in the United States. Parties are seen as legitimate no matter their size, and, most importantly, parties have realized that cooperation is the only way. (Politics are still politics here, but this was just a detail I found refreshing.)
So, yes. Rock ‘n Roll was the theme and getting your own Big Hair was the main attraction. Hairstylists in poodle skirts and super red lipstick were on hand with countless bobby pins, bottles of gel and cans of spray. You stood in line and when it was your turn, the stylist started curling and pinning hair every which way. Each person walked away with an ear-to-ear smile. There were even 2 (Dutch?) Elvis impersonators walking around, pretty good. Between dinner and the museums, I was able to catch a snippet of Den Haag as a city. The architecture, particularly of the government buildings, is remarkable and almost fairy tale-like. Seventeenth century iron gates flank entrances and big white swans swim around water fountains. The Binnenhof, or the Dutch parliament building, is dated back to the 1400s. The age of everything alone astounds me. I’ll be heading back as soon as I can just to be there more.