27 September 2009

Art and railways in the Netherlands

I was recently given a pack of postcards by Homme Heringa (Bureau Spoorbouwmeester) who was a member of the Identification Mission on the Revitalisation of Indonesia’s Railway Stations, together with Ben de Vries (Netherlands Cultural Heritage Agency). These are not ordinary postcards, they are postcards published by the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways) showing art works in the stations, on board the trains and along the tracks of the Netherlands. These are realisations of the Dutch Railways’ ‘art policy.’ The purpose of this art policy is to:

  • make the mundane world of public transport less mundane and more interesting

  • give visual pleasure and inspiration during travel

  • create a new image of the Dutch Railways

  • integrate art, design and architecture

  • show the societal cultural responsibility of the Dutch Railways
These postcards show a few examples of the realisation of this policy.

At the moment it is perhaps too much to ask for the Indonesian Railway Company (PTKA) to show any interest in the arts. Instead of art works, Indonesian stations are now full of cigarette advertisements that have encroached on the signage and even overshadowed PTKA’s own logo.

But at least PTKA has tried to brighten up some of its stations by painting them gaudy colours.

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