CHAPTER II – AMSTERDAM TATTOO MUSEUM

After enjoying my first beers in Amsterdam, at a pub named Sound Garden (awesome!), and Sofia and I moving from one topic of discussion to other in a flash, for so much we had to update each other, Saturday morning and part of th afternoon I had to hit the road on my own. Not a problem whatsoever, I’ve realized I love wandering on the streets with the sole companion of my Ipod and the camera. Unfortunately gotta admit, due to super cold weather, I haven’t been very productive in terms of quantity, but there are some stamps worth keeping, so despite everything, I’m happy on this regard.

I had been lucky to inherit a transport ticket valid for 72h, however I wasn’t so lucky with day passes, and I wasn’t in the mood for spending 40Eur in a 24 all-in card to visit the museums crowded by tourists, so I decided an alternative plan, and chose The Amsterdam Tattoo Museum, to pay a visit, and be warm safeguarded for a while.

And this is how it was:

Considering tattoos have an expiring date regardless of quality, the concept of a museum is something difficult to understand for obvious reasons.

The fact that flesh cannot be preserved, does not mean that there aren’t so many other features involved. There’s a universe of stuff to dive in, related to the art of ink: devices and tools, ancient traditions and cultures the inking meant something even magic, tattoo artists, illustrations and designs, and lot of memorabilia.

All of a sudden I might seem the defendant #1 of tattoos, and that’s not true, but since I had these last two pieces, changing and moving upwards to a more pro level, it’s true I’m absolutely fascinated by color palettes, shading, techniques, style…and of course, the artists themselves.

All this been said, and sitting at the Museum café, surrounding by paintings, magazines and displays showing the close relationship among tattoos and rock, and enjoying a Grolsh (ages since I didn’t have one), let me tell you about this place.

First thing to mention, is tha the founder of this museum is Henk Schiffmacher. Ok, most likely you don’t know who he is. I didn’t either, till I checked his name on the net, and discovered that Hanky Panky has featured Red Hot Chili Peppers members, Willy DeVille and even KurtCobain among his clients. He’s also published several books of tattoos compilations, for instance those of Taschen you can find anywhere.

Three floors of stuff worth seeing. The concept of the exhibition is to navigate through the history of the body art.

The starting point had to do on one hand, with ancient Catholic related symbols, supposed to be inked as protectors and marks highlighting a holy mission,  and on the other with Africa, and the early Coptic and Berber tattoos and scarification techniques, really impressive.

Native America tattooing continues, to extend up to the Pacific tribes of Samoans, and Mahoris… Although the style is similar, the symbols and locations are different, implying also ranks and families.

Needless to say, there’s a special area covering all the Japanese and Korean strong and ancient tradition, with their ceremonies, the family involvement and other practices.

The 2nd and 3rd floor are more focused into a more frivolous and contemporary side of the tattoo world. Prison and Carnivale circus, some classic characters remembered, such as CindyRay and Princess Beatrice, the tattooed ladies, and artist icons such as Sailor Jerry, PeterA’Dam or Les Skuse are paid tribute. Recreations of circus, prisons cabin booths, and tattoo parlours are nicely displayed.

At this point I have to make a stop and remark something. In less than 24h I’ve been here, I can tell this city is not cheap at all. I had been warned that, due to become one of the most demanded European destination, partly because of all this pot culture, tourism has directly caused you to be charged as much as possible. Also, the country welfare status, has to do with it.

After this remark, I have to admit that this Amsterdam Tattoo Museum admission fee of 10Eur is a bit excessive, but on the other hand, checking other museums ticket prices, is average.

Truth is that, to make the visit more interesting, there are several added values, you can enjoy. Many activities are constantly programmed, art exhibitions, live music, and even freak shows. There are also a couple of tattoo parlours, you can get inked agreeing the rate with the artist. I almost got seduced by a very charming boy from Sacramento, named Chris Danley  (but turned down the offer after I received some awesome news I’ll tell you about in some time). It’s also very interesting  this museum regularly has very established worldwide artists as guests from time to time, thus, perhaps, if you’re interested in having an appointment with Tim Hendricks, for instance, you can have your chance.

You can check some more information here:

Amsterdam Tattoo Museum

Henk Schiffmacher

Chris Danley

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