Apart from board games, there is almost no better way to spend the day than by visiting a museum. When I lived in Scotland and was looking for a day’ s worth of entertainment, I often went to visit different museums in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Admission was free and I could wander around for hours looking at the most beautiful works. It was great to spend a day soaking up culture! In the Netherlands, the cultural sector is unfortunately always a bit neglected and museum visits are not fully subsidised by the government or associated funds, so you do have to pay an admission fee. As a result thereof, one of the best investments is the Dutch ‘Museumkaart’ (basically a museum subscription service). For the same price as a few months of Netflix, you can visit a plethora of museums throughout the Netherlands. Bargain! During the past two years, I, like many others, have had to miss out on the intensive usage of this Museumkaart.
Fortunately, Holy Grail Games offers us a solution. In Museum Pictura, players collect and exhibit the most beautiful works of Turner, Rembrandt, Caravaggio and others. It does feel like your are really visiting a museum. Will your museum become a picture too?
In Museum Pictura, players collect paintings in order to build the most beautiful collection. There are paintings from various periods (such as romantic or rococo) by various artists (Leonardo DaVinci anyone?) in various genres (portraits, landscapes, still life, etc.). Throughout the game you can score points with your collections or follow trends in the international art market. Collections consist of paintings from the same period or in the same genre, but you only have limited space in your museum. You score points for special guests you have managed to lure into your museum, and at the end of the game you score all your collections and get bonus points for exhibits you have set up and a well-stocked museum hall and abiding by the wishes of your patrons.
During Museum Pictura, players take turns in a number of phases and as soon as a player reaches 50 points on the scoring track, the game end starts. During a turn, the active player draws two cards from the art market pile and takes these paintings. Next, the active player exchanges a painting with an existing painting in one of the international museums. This player may score victory points if the trends of the relevant museum are followed by placing a painting, but if this player wants to take a popular painting from this museum, this player must pay with his or her victory points. After the player has participated in this art exchange, other players may also participate. After the handover, the active player may perform one of three actions: the player may exhibit art, set up a temporary exhibition or clear out the art depot.
If a player goes to exhibit, this player places a card in his or her museum. Players can only form collections with adjacent cards, but they may move their exhibited cards in their museum at any time during the game. To exhibit a card, players must place a painting from their hand in their depot. Players can exhibit cards from their hand or cards from other players’ depots. So think carefully before you play cards. With a temporary exhibition, players can score points with one of their collections. The more paintings that are part of the collection, the more points. The players also get an exhibition bonus. By clearing their depot, players can take cards from their depot back into their hand. During a turn, in addition to one of the previous actions, players can also attract special guests by fulfilling certain requirements or play an action card.
A game about the most beautiful paintings has to paint a beautiful picture itself, and Museum Pictura has more than succeeded in this. The game looks absolutely stunning. The game takes place in the 1920’s and this is reflected in the graphical design which is very satisfyingly done. Besides that, the many paintings included in the game are a big plus. There are plenty of moments during the game when you just want to gaze at your cards and look at the paintings. For the rest, Museum Picture is a fast-paced card game with an enormously high production quality and a good amount of friendly interaction. Wonderful – soaking up all that culture!