Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Rijkmuseum and the MyHeritage LIVE Conference in Amsterdam

The Threatened Swan
We are busy getting ready for the MyHeritage LIVE Conference in Amsterdam from September 6th to the 8th but meanwhile, we are taking the opportunity of being in Amsterdam to visit some of the places I have only read about previously. The first place on my list is the Rijksmuseum, the national museum of the Netherlands. Here is a short description from a Google popup:
The Rijksmuseum is a Dutch national museum dedicated to arts and history in Amsterdam. The museum is located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, close to the Van Gogh Museum, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, and the Concertgebouw. The Rijksmuseum was founded in The Hague on 19 November 1798 and moved to Amsterdam in 1808, where it was first located in the Royal Palace and later in the Trippenhuis.
The image above of The Threatened Swan is historically significant in Dutch history. Here is a description of the painting from the Rijksmuseum website.
A swan fiercely defends its nest against a dog. In later centuries this scuffle was interpreted as a political allegory: the white swan was thought to symbolize the Dutch statesman Johan de Witt (assassinated in 1672) protecting the country from its enemies. This was the meaning attached to the painting when it became the very first acquisition to enter the Nationale Kunstgalerij (the forerunner of the Rijksmuseum) in 1880.
It turns out that swans are very significant in Western European history. Another example is the name of the famous castle in Germany, the Neuschwanstein Castle which translated into English is the "New Swan Castle." Images of swans are very prominent in many contexts.

What does all this have to do with MyHeritage and the Conference? Well, you might start to realize that genealogy and history are really the same things. Over the next few days, I hope to be able to show some direct connections between our cultural and historic heritage and our genealogical inheritance.

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