Monday, December 7, 2009

Amsterdam: In which we visit The Torture Museum

I am a museum whore. And I proudly admit it.

Nothing makes me happier than perusing culture's unique treasures -- art and otherwise -- in museums, large and small, famous and infamous, contemporary and arcane. Maybe it's the historian in me -- or the voyeur. Who knows, but anyone who travels with me quickly discovers -- I. AM. A. MUSEUM. WHORE.

HOWEVER. Over the years, I have learned not all my travel companions share this fascination of mine. As a result, I've tempered my urge to go museum-crawling dawn-to-dusk and tailor certain museum visits to the special interests of my travel pals. Which explains why Matt and I were at The Torture Museum our first day in Amsterdam.

I think it's partly a Guy Thing.I could be wrong here, but I suspect that, given the choice between ogling The Dutch Masters and checking out The Rack, most self-respecting 23-year-old guys would choose The Rack. At least that was my reasoning for incorporating a stop at The Torture Museum in our walking tour of Amsterdam's Old Center.

So, visualize this heart-warming family scene -- mother and son, arm in arm, skipping up to the ticket booth to get our tickets for a carefree holiday outing through Amsterdam's Torture Museum. Norman Rockwell material? Not so much.

The Torture Museum was, shall we say, edifying.

Lesson number one -- over the centuries, we humans have been incredibly efficient (and creative) in thinking up ways to make life physically and psychically miserable for each other, particularly when it involves religion, palace intrigue or politics.

Lesson number two -- anyone whose career involves collecting, researching, cataloging and displaying implements of torture must have, well, a somewhat unique outlook on life. (One look at the gentleman selling tickets to The Torture Museum was a confirmation of that.) I'm thinking life is not all giggles and car keys for a torture museum curator. Just a hunch.

Lesson number three -- one not lost on either of us -- a lot of torture involves one's private parts. We both walked a little gingerly for a few minutes after departing the dark confines of the museum.

I give you the link to The Torture Museum in Amsterdam. . . seriously, a soupcon of its many dubious charms.

Plus, one last observation: There are actually people who review torture museums on the Internet.

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