The New Rijksmuseum

Oeke Hoogendijk’s highly absorbing documentary probes the decade-long renovation of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, an institution as locally renowned for its world-class collection of famous paintings as for the very Dutch-seeming bikeway that proudly yet pragmatically runs right through its belly. So of course any architectural adjustments would necessarily involve some intense negotiations with the cyclists union, not to mention the aesthetics commission, and just about any other agent of cultural bureaucracy you might imagine. Come to think of it, this sharply studied political morass of ego, entitlement, and maddening administrative politesse is not unlike the scene of your average masterful Rembrandt tableau. No shortage of drama, in other words. For instance: As the project drags on, the museum director quits and moves to Vienna. “There’s more to life than museums,” he says. “Starting the biggest project of your life and walking out on it, that can’t feel very good,” someone else says. Though it actually observes people falling asleep in meetings, the film itself is not boring. Hoogendijk honors the art-historical legacy of the place without getting bogged down by it—indeed, her occasional gliding aerial views of the handsome fog-shrouded building do a crack job of counterpointing gravity with buoyancy.