Museums and concert halls temporarily turned themselves into beauty salons and gyms in the Netherlands on Wednesday in protest against the Dutch government’s coronavirus restrictions.
A barber and two nail artists tended to visitors among priceless works of art at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and two barbers set up their chairs on the stage of the Concertgebouw in the capital.
The cultural sector says it is unfair that they must remain closed while Covid curbs were lifted last week on shops and so-called “contact professions” like barbers, nail salons and even sex work.
Dutch authorities handed out enforcement notices to a number of the 70-odd venues that took part in the day-long protest.
“We wanted to make the point that a museum is a safe visit and we should be open,” Van Gogh Museum director Emilie Gordenker said.
“The mayor called me last night and she said she’s not permitting this. We expect to get a warning at some point after which we will have to close, but we wanted to make this point very badly so here we are.” One of the barber’s clients said he had come because he was “pro-culture”.
“Let’s reopen business, let’s reopen culture as soon as possible,” said Max Smit, 32.
“Of course with a reasonable pandemic risk taking, but I think that large institutions like big open spaces like the Van Gogh Museum should be able to reopen.”
Nearby, the “Hair salon at the Concertgebouw” event saw two masked barbers clip hair on stage, while the orchestra played Symphony No. 2 by Charles Iver.
“After two years of patience and an ever-constructive attitude, it is high time for a fair perspective for the cultural sector,” Concertgebouw director Simon Renink said.
Originally published in Dawn, January 20th, 2022