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Fluorescent Amsterdam

Visiting a museum in Amsterdam is not unusual. Some of the most famous museums in the world are in the city centre, namely the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, and the queues to get in to these will regularly trail around the block. Whilst these are fascinating establishments and definitely worthy of a visit, I wanted to delve in to the hidden areas of this eclectic city to see what wonders it may hold. I didn’t need to look much further after discovering Electric Ladyland – Museum of Fluorescent Art during my research, and I certainly didn’t regret it.

A small, unassuming shop front tucked away in a quieter side street of Jordaan, this wonderland is where I spent one of the most engaging and yet surreal hours of my life. The compact location determines that visitors need to book in advance, and I would certainly recommend it as with only 10-12 places on each tour, slots can fill up quickly. Instructed via the booking email to arrive at a very specific time, I stepped in to the crowded shop with stacked pieces of fluorescent art all around the room. Following a short introduction and the removal of shoes (you get to slip on some very attractive hospital slippers), it was time to descend the very steep staircase to the single roomed basement.

Nick Padalino, the artist and founder of the collection was waiting and immediately began to share his knowledge, and over the next 50 minutes Nick took us through the history of fluorescent art, its use in popular culture over the decades and the natural fluorescent rocks that exist. No bigger than 20 sq.ft., the walls and cabinets are covered with artefacts whilst half of the room is an art installation. It really is an immersive experience - the reason for the removal of the shoes is to allow you to enter the installation, to look in to all of the nooks and crannies to find the hidden features. The idea, Nick explained, is for the visitors to become part of the art as they step in to it.

The collection is extensive, and the only one like it in the world. The rocks cabinet is full of natural gems and Nick uses handheld lights to guide you through them. The record sleeves and posters that adorn the walls (including the Jimmy Hendrix Electric Ladyland album, the museum’s namesake) are incredible pieces of art. Nick’s artwork is also included and he even has a fluorescent tattoo.

Nick is a really interesting guy who talked pretty consistently throughout my visit. With his ponytail, denim waistcoat and laid back attitude, Nick embodies the spirit of Woodstock. His sense of humour becoming more evident as the visit went on and we asked more questions; “People comment on Trip Advisor that it is a weird little museum… well if you want to go to Anne Frank’s House, go to Anne Franks’s house!” he exclaimed. This museum knows what it is and is proud.

Growing up in the 1990s, I remember a fashion of neon colours and fluorescent accessories, but this museum really did open my eyes to a new appreciation for the talent. The creation of the fluorescence and how it is still as vibrant and like new today as it was in the 1960s, is brilliant. Nick’s knowledge of the subject was engaging, it was one of the most personal ‘tours’ that I have ever experienced.

At €5 this is a really unusual and hidden experience in Amsterdam that is definitely worth a visit. Check out more details on their website.


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