Engebrechtsz, for all his artistic shortcomings, was a great colourist, composition designer and storyteller and his two great triptychs (amongst smaller works) in the Lakenhal are no less than masterpieces.
Their wealth of rhythms, colours and themes may remind you of the polyphonic music of the time.
It was a great joy seeing them again (and indeed to see Villevoyes stunning work again).
The most famous work in the room is of course Lucas’ Last Judgement triptych (1527), which fortunately survived the massive iconoclasm later that century.
Leiden also boasts a small but interesting collection of 17th century art, connected to Leiden, in its wonderful rooms with 19th century skylights.
The so-called Pape Corridor shows works by novelist Jan Wolkers (1925-2007) who also was a prolific visual artist and who was born in Oegstgeest near Leiden and as a youngster he worked and painted there.
His visual works on show are very much historic documents now.
During the 16th and 17th centuries Leiden became rich and important for its cloth industry and sales, for which Lakenhal was originally built (‘Lakenhal’ means Cloth Hall).
Some of that wealth can still be seen in the present museum.
The museum recently presented some new cloth designs, amongst others by The Hague artist Christie van der Haak (1950).
Lakenhal also has an important collection of works from the first half of the 20th century, interspersed with contemporary works like this moving portrait of the hapless Marinus van der Lubbe (1909-1934; also from Leiden) by Gert Germeraad (1959).
Only few artefacts will remind you of Leiden’s academic history, amongst others a phantom cabinet by Mark Dion (1961).
Another point of some local historic chauvinism is Leiden’s heroic role during the Dutch Revolt (1568-1648), which inspired the museum to commission a monumental photo work by Erwin Olaf (1959), which is probably more impressive than all other works in the room.
The museum breaths a sense of history connected to the present day.
Renovated it has become pleasant, clearly structured, light and more diversified.
It doesn’t pretend to be cosmopolitan and it isn’t geared to big blockbusters, which is a relief in between all those art museums in the country which try to be interchangeable international entrepreneurial art depots.
The Lakenhal Museum can be proud of what it has become.
This is the public, free and unguarded bicycle storage behind Centraal Station at Rijnstraat, as seen in 2017.
It is in a small area that constantly slips from the attention of the city’s gentrifyers, while they are working hard on the area in front of the station to change that into a circus of zombie urbanism.
I must say the bike storage, or bike hotel as it is often called, and its surroundings are as ugly as ugly can be, but, in a way, i like it even more for it.
It has a gloomy character of greyness, of metal, concrete and of unruly traffic.
Under it are taxi ranks.
Some people leave their bikes in the storage as if it is an ominous asylum where you can leave your pet behind in anonymous solitude, while other bikes are just stolen.
But most people store their bikes there just for a day to catch their train or bus to their work, and in spite of the somewhat sinister atmosphere you can quite safely do so.
The bicycle is an almost integral part of the Dutch body and as bikes, being eco-friendly monsters, are becoming more important, earlier or later the town’s gentrifyers and managers will find a ‘solution’ for this rather grim place.
Let’s hope they won’t for now, as the more unsuspected, maybe even darker places of town are part of its ambiguous character.