European art in the spotlight in 2013

People look at old master paintings in a temporary gallery at Amsterdam's acclaimed Rijkmuseum....

People look at old master paintings in a temporary gallery at Amsterdam's acclaimed Rijkmuseum. After a 10-year closure for major renovations, the museum will reopen in April. (Handout)

DIANE SLAWYCH, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:20 PM ET

It will be a banner year for the arts in Europe in 2013. After 10 years of renovations two world famous museums will reopen, Norway marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of artist Edvard Munch, and Berlin celebrates the 100th anniversary of the discovery of a bust of Nefertiti with a special exhibit. These are just a few of the many landmark cultural events taking place in the new year. Elsewhere in Europe, Helsinki kicks off its 10-day Season of Light festival.

AMSTERDAM

After a decade-long closure, the world-famous Rijksmuseum will reopen its doors to the public on April 14, 2013. Visitors will find a renewed building, new public facilities, a revamped garden, a new Asian Pavilion and -- of course -- a new display of the museum's prized possessions, including paintings by Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Frans Hals and Jan Steen. A highlight is Rembrandt's 1642 masterpiece Night Watch, which will be on show again in its own gallery.

Together, these paintings tell the story of the Golden Age, when the Netherlands led the way on the world stage and international trade brought great wealth and an unprecedented high level in the arts. More than 8,000 objects -- porcelain, ceramics, silver, glass, furniture, prints, drawings, photographs and costumes -- covering 800 years of Dutch art and history will also be on display. Two beautiful period rooms will take visitors back to the riches of the 18th century.

The Rijksmuseum boasts it will be the first national museum in the world that will be open every day of the year, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is 15 euros -- about $19.50 -- but free with an iamsterdam card. Admission is also free for children up to 18 years of age. For more, check rijksmuseum.nl or holland.com.

VIENNA

Few European capitals can top Vienna next year for the number of major new arts and culture attractions. Among the highlights is the reopening of the

Kunstkammer (Chamber of Art and Wonders) at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum) on March 1.

Described as the foremost collection of its kind in the world, it includes all things rare, curious and unusual, collected over centuries by emperors and princes. The 2,200 objects in 20 newly installed galleries will include such celebrated objects as the Saliera -- the precious gold salt cellar by Italian master Benvenuto Cellini -- and sculptures such as the Krumau Madonna (circa 1400). Also on display: Magnificent bronze statuettes, delicate and bizarre ivories and precious stone vessels, strange scientific instruments, gameboards and more. For details, check kkhm.at.

Also worth noting: A state-of-the-art concert hall for the world famous Vienna Boys' Choir opened in mid December in Augarten park; the Lichtenstein City Palace is reopening in spring 2013 after a $100-million renovation; and opera houses are celebrating two composers -- Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner -- who were both born 200 years ago.

For more, check the Vienna Tourist Board website Vienna.info.

NORWAY

A series of special events will mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of artist Edvard Munch -- famous for his iconic painting The Scream.

In Oslo, the highlight will be the most comprehensive and ambitious full-scale retrospective of Munch's works ever shown. The exhibition (June 1-Oct. 6) will be in two locations: Artworks from the period 1882-1903 in the National Gallery, and artworks from the period 1904-1944 at the Munch Museum.

Beyond the museums, visitors to Oslo can experience Munch's monumental works in places ranging from the University Aula to the dining room of the former Freia Chocolate Factory. Fans may also want to venture to the hills of Ekeberg, to see the view that inspired Munch to paint The Scream, or tour the homes where he lived in Asgardstrand and Hvidsten. For more, check Munch150.no.

BERLIN

If there's one "must see" exhibit at Berlin's Neues Museum, it's the stunningly beautiful bust of Nefertiti. The well-preserved limestone-painted bust of the Egyptian Queen dates to BC 1340. Always an attention grabber, it is in the spotlight of the recently opened exhibition titled In the Light of Amarna: 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery, which runs through April 13.

German archeologists found the bust on Dec. 6, 1912, at an excavation site in el-Amarna -- or Akhetaten as the city was called in ancient times. The exhibit explores the life and culture that surrounded the queen and her husband, pharaoh Akhenaten, and focuses on never-before-seen discoveries from the collections of the Berlin museums, supplemented by loans from other museums abroad, allowing Nefertiti's time to be understood within its cultural-historical context. Check neuesmuseum.de.

HELSINKI LIGHTS UP

Downtown Helsinki is being transformed during a 10-day long Season of Light event that kicks off on New Year's Eve. An international group of designers is creating a "journey of light" -- a series of light installations from the Esplanade Park via Senate Square, Unioninkatu and Kaisaniemi Park to Parliament House. Among the installations and events are a "Village of Light" by Jouko Karkkainen, which is composed of three illuminated miniature houses of different sizes modelled after traditional Finnish post-war housing; performances by fire circus group Walkea; and artist Mikki Kunttu'sound land light installation, which transforms the facades of the cathedral, the Council of State building and the university. The Season of Light runs from Dec. 31 to Jan. 9 from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. For more, go to the Visit Helsinki website, visithelsinki.fi/en.

NEED TO KNOW

GETTING AROUND

If you're planning to travel in Europe by train next year to see some of the new cultural attractions above, a few days still remain to take advantage of a

20% discount on Eurail Global & Eurail Select Passes. The promotional passes must be purchased by Dec. 31 for travel through March 31.

The Eurail Global Pass offers access to 23 European countries and the flexibility of choosing either consecutive or non-consecutive travel days. The Eurail Select Pass covers 24 countries with a choice five to 15 travel days for rail travel to three to five adjoining countries within two months. Check eurailtravel.com.

writer@interlog.com


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