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A great success: ‘The Road to Van Eyck’ attracts 140,000 visitors
In just under four months, ‘The Road to Van Eyck’ has attracted 140,000 visitors to
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the city of Rotterdam. On Sunday, 10 February,
the exhibition will probably draw to a close with a total tally of 10,000 more visitors than
expected. The daring financial leap that the museum took last winter to ensure that the
exhibition, which cost more than €1.6 million, could go ahead has proven to be
Since the opening on 13 October 2012 there has been an abundance of interest in ‘The Road to
Van Eyck’ from press and public alike. From the busy opening day, thousands of people have
been astonished by these centuries-old, precious and rare works. On average, just under 1,500
visitors from the Netherlands and abroad came to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen each day,
and in recent weekends this has risen towards 2,500 visitors per day. The specially produced
multimedia tour for the exhibition was rented by more than 22,000 visitors or downloaded for
free onto their smartphones. Some 7,500 copies of the catalogue have been sold.
The project’s funding was secured thanks to the Kring van Van Eyck (‘Van Eyck Circle’), the
various sponsors and cultural funds, the BankGiro Loterij and the museum’s own stream of
income. There was no need to call on the generous guarantee of A444,000 that the
Blockbusterfonds made available to cover the museum’s commercial risk. The 10% fee that is
due to this foundation will go towards supporting other special cultural projects.
Research reveals that six out of ten visitors expect to make a visit to the major Oskar Kokoschka
exhibition in the autumn of 2013.
Scholarly discussion of Van Eyck
The 90 or so extremely fragile paintings, sculptures, precious metalwork, miniatures and
drawings will from next week be making their way back to their owners in the Netherlands and
further afield. It is probably the last occasion that all these works will ever be exhibited together.
This coming Monday, 11 February, the exhibition’s closure will be marked by a so-called
Scholars’ Day, a gathering by invitation for more than 40 international Van Eyck curators and
academics. The attributions of the exhibition’s curators, Stefan Kemperdick and Friso
Lammertse, will be discussed by 14th-century experts from around the world.
Between October and early February the city of Rotterdam attracted many tens of thousands of
new visitors, and in research conducted by Hendrik Beerda Brand Consultancy almost 70% of
the ‘Van Eyck pilgrims’ named the exhibition as their main reason for visiting the city. The Witte
de Withstraat, a continuation of the Museumpark, also welcomed many extra visitors, who
literally walked along ‘The Physical Road to Van Eyck’. Thousands of visitors to the PAN
Amsterdam contemporary art fair followed ‘The Road After Van Eyck’, with works inspired by the
Old Master and his techniques.
The response of public and press
The public as well as the press were wildly enthusiastic about ‘The Road to Van Eyck’. Visitors
gave the exhibition an 8.4, according to research by Hendrik Beerda, the Blockbusterfonds and
others. The exhibition also received compliments via Twitter and Facebook on a daily basis.
Dutch and international media gave the exhibition extensive and widespread coverage. ‘Shows
of this brilliance do not come along twice in a lifetime, and Rotterdam really is not far away.
Swim there if you have to,’ the reviewer for British newspaper The Independent enthused. And
according to The Wall Street Journal, ‘This show … presents the Van Eycks’ achievements in a
rich and revelatory context impossible to replicate in any individual museum or collection
anywhere in the world.’
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