A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Many students of LUC don´t interact a lot with the city-life in The Hague, because we are generally rather busy with readings and essays and then we have a lot of activities on the campus going on. Thus, I often only hear after events happen that they actually took place and regret not going. This also happened to me last year when Museumnacht (Museum Night) took place. This is an event that takes place in different cities around the Netherlands where all the museums are opened until late and additional activities are organized.
Fortunately, this time my friends already checked The Hague´s event calendar early and we got tickets. So on Saturday evening we hopped on our bikes and went to go to see all the museums that we already wanted to see last year, but never found the right day. There is quite a good offer in The Hague: The Escher museum is very famous and as it is right next to our former college building of LUC, I walked by last year every day and always thought about going but never actually went. Then there is the Prison Gate Museum next to Binnenhof telling the old stories of crime and punishment in The Hague. Another museum that was recommended to me is the Humanity House. It makes you experience the story of refugees around the world. Of course, there are many more museums, but these were the three I was most curious about.
We wanted to start at the Humanity House as it is closest to where we live. Two fake border control officers had all the visitors fill out visa application forms for the museum and checked them for illegal goods. Together with the other visitors, we stood in the line to undergo the procedure, but only to realize in the end that we couldn´t get in with our online tickets: they had to be exchanged for a wristband first.
Thus, first of all we had to go exchange our ticket which proved to be more difficult than we thought. Although we know the center of The Hague quite well by now, it took us over an hour to find the VVV office as all the people we asked gave us different directions. In the end we realized that our search was quite stupid, because the office was right in the foyer of the city library and not hard to find at all. Still, we enjoyed ourselves walking around being crowded by all the people that were amusing themselves. I have never before seen the streets of The Hague so full at night! On our search for the wristband we also discovered that there was a skating disco in the city hall. A DJ played, drinks were sold and people were skating and dancing all around the place where usually only bureaucracy takes place.
Finally, we had our wristbands and walked back to Humanity House. We were lucky enough to arrive just in time for a comedy show about Dutch politics and immigration to start in the theatre of the Humanity House and took seats right away. As at college everything is only in English I have gotten so used to not having to speak Dutch that I didn´t even think about the fact that the show was- of course- going to be in Dutch. As a native German speaker I could still follow the main topics, but my friend could just try to figure out through the acting what was going on. Still, we enjoyed the singing of the two comedians and the good vibes in the audience.
Then, we went to discover Humanity House as such. It gives a quite touchy-feely tour through the steps that refugees experience after being displaced by some kind of catastrophe. In doing so, the museum is very successful giving the visitors a rather uneasy sentiment of what is going on and what the next step of the tour would look like. For example, at one point we passed through a long corridor that was filled with folders with documents and in the end we had to go into a little cabin that faced a window. On the other side, there should have been a person to take our documents or interview us about why we wanted to pass the checkpoint, but nobody showed up. So after a while we left and ignored the sign that said we could only pass with permission by the staff. We were not sure whether this happened to all the visitors or whether we were just forgotten in our little cabin, but it had an impressive effect of making you feel lost.
In the end, we stayed quite long in the Humanity House as it was really interesting. After that we decided to get some food and then it was already too late to go to a second museum. We lost too much time searching for the wristbands and walking around. Still, the exploring and searching was a nice part of the evening and now at least I have an incentive to go to Museumnacht again next year as I remained curious about the other museums.