Children’s Biennale – Queen Máxima in Groningen

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It had been quite a while since I saw one of the royals. I had to think! April 2018 King’s Day in Groningen, Princess Laurentien in May 2018 and a visit of King Willem-Alexander to the Groninger Museum and the A-Church in Groningen in June 2018, and the sighting of the three Cambridge kids in London in March 2019. That was about it in the past few years. First illness, than the corona pandemic started. The last times the Dutch royals had visited this area therefore the engagements were either not announced beforehand, or the accreditation for media was quite limited.

This time I was lucky. No place inside, but at least me and a few others were allowed to be outside at the Groninger Museum where Queen Máxima of the Netherlands on Tuesday 1 June 2021 opened the “Kinderbiënnale 2021“, an exhibition for children, created by children. Luckily I had planned an early dentist visit, so I made it in time to the museum. Beautiful weather, and the good news: the museums in the Netherlands are allowed to open their doors again as off Saturday 5 June 2021.

Upon arrival just before 11am the Queen stepped out of her car and walked on the bridge towards me. Of course all the attention to the people accompanying her in to the museum. So when she got closer, I simply said “Goedemorgen” (good morning), followed by several colleagues. And Queen Máxima wished the same to us. Much too soon she was inside. When checking my photos in the sun I found one that looked quite good. When I went to the terrace to have a better look, it was gone! I was afraid I would have to go to the shop to retrieve them. But some photographers recommended free photo software online and said I should change the sd-card in the camera. Was I glad I always have an extra battery and an extra card with me! Just before 12.30pm the Queen left the building again. The children she had met inside waved her goodbye and off she went. In the late afternoon she had to hand over the “Apples of Orange” awards, and The Hague isn’t exactly close to Groningen. Funnily enough she wore the Groninger outfit at the “Apples of Orange” 2020.

Back at home it took a few hours, but guess what! I managed to find back even two photos that were accidentally deleted. I usually leave the camera on during events, as it happens that you haven’t switched it on when you really need it. But probably that’s not the best idea when it means you loose precious (and good) photos.

Time to go inside and have a look at the interactive art exhibition. The “Kinderbiënnale 2021” ist the first ever Children’s Biennale in Europe. It will be open until 9 January 2022. Children helped to write information signs for the artworks, plan the marketing and selected merchandise for the museum shop. They also witnessed the technical construction of the exhibition, and learned how to tour visitors through the exhibition. They also visited the studios of the participating artists and helped producing art.

Rooms full of works of art that invite interaction, participation and creation, so visitors can actively engage with art in a variety of ways. The museum hopes to give a young audience valuable new experiences and to learn from young people themselves. The Children’s Biennale was organised in partnership with the National Gallery Singapore, primary schools in Groningen and regional organisations. While walking through the exhibition I especially enjoyed the Macramé artwork. Upstairs I discovered a selfieroom with a huge chess King and Queen, named Willem and Máxima. And the wall of compliments showed a short message of Queen Máxima herself: “Such a wonderful idea! A children’s biennale. My compliments! Maxima”. A colleague and I of course immediately wrote our own message on that wall (although we didn’t dare to do it too close to the Queen’s.

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