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All Rembrandts in the Rijksmuseum?

All of Rembrandt’s works of art collected in one museum? It can’t be. Everybody knows that, right? Nevertheless, the enormous banner “ALL THE REMBRANDTS UNTIL 10 JUNE 2019” on the facade of the Rijksmuseum gave a visitor the illusion that this utopia had become reality. It turned out that the exhibition contains only the works from the Rijksmuseum’s own collection. This was followed by a complaint from a dissatisfied visitor to the Advertising Code Committee (RCC).

The complainant is proved right by both the RCC and the Board of Appeal. The Rijksmuseum’s fine set of arguments to refute the deception was to no avail. For example, Rembrandt produced a total of more than 2,600 works of art; the average museum visitor will understand that it is practically impossible to collect all Rembrandts in one exhibition. Especially in this jubilee year in which all kinds of museums organize their own Rembrandt exhibition. In addition, the title of the banner must be short and powerful: a banner offers a limited possibility to provide information. And also: the consumer usually buys his ticket online, and the website clearly states that it is about the museum’s own collection.

The Board of Appeal has set all this aside. The banner wrongly suggests that all works made by Rembrandt in his life are on display in the Rijksmuseum. It is essential information that it only concerns the Rembrandts from our own collection, which is missing. This information is provided via the website, but this does not remove the deception. The banner will lead people to visit the exhibition, or to go to the website. So the banner has to give all the right information. According to the Board, there is enough space on this meter-long banner to make clear what can be expected of the exhibition.

That’s just one word: the change from “ALL THE REMBRANDTS” to “ALL OUR REMBRANDTS” would have been enough.

The exhibition Discover Rembrandt – His life and all his paintings in the RAI Amsterdam also seems to prove that all Rembrandt’s are best available in one room. But… don’t be fooled; you will only see reproductions there.

Ebba Hoogenraad

(thanks to Hannah de Leeuw , student-intern)

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