Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum maintains the world’s largest collection of the works of the world’s most popular artist – Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), his paintings, drawings and letters, completed with the art of his contemporaries. Each year, 1.6 million visitors come to the Van Gogh Museum, making it one of the 25 most popular museums in the world. The museum has reopened on May 1st after the seven months renovation.
The collection features the works of Vincent van Gogh – more than 200 painting, 500 drawings but also works of other artists, his contemporaries – Impressionists and Postimpressionists. Van Gogh’s work is organized chronologically into five periods, each representing a different period of his life and work: The Netherlands, Paris, Arles, Saint-Remy and Auvers-sur-Oise. The museum made part of its collection accessible on Internet throughGoogle Art Project.
Even if you are not a big Van Gogh lover, do not miss this museum. Its modern main building was designed by Gerrit Rietveld, completed by his partners after his death (opened in 1973), with later built elliptical exhibition wing by Kisho Kurokawa (opened in 1999). Both give a visitor brilliant space to admire art works, to look and to breathe. While this is one of the most crowded museums in the world, you will always be able to find there your private moment to admire Van Gogh’s genius. There is a free wifi in the museum.
Upon Vincent van Gogh’s death in 1890, his work not sold fell into the possession of his brother Theo. Theo died six months after Vincent, leaving the work in the possession of his widow,Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. Selling many of Vincent’s paintings with the ambition of spreading knowledge of his artwork, Johanna maintained a private collection of his works.
The collection was inherited by her son Vincent Willem van Gogh in 1925, eventually loaned to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam where it was displayed for many years, and was transferred to the state-initiated Vincent van Gogh Foundation in 1962.
Design for a Van Gogh Museum was commissioned by the Dutch government in 1963 to Dutch architect and furniture designer Gerrit Rietveld. Rietveld died a year later, and the building was not completed until 1973, when the museum opened its doors.
In 1998 and 1999, the building was renovated by the Dutch architect Martien van Goor and an exhibition wing by the Japanese modernist architect Kisho Kurokawa was added.
Starting in the fall of 2012, the museum was closed for renovations for six months. During this period, 75 works from the collection were shown in the Hermitage Amsterdam.
On September 9, 2013, the museum unveiled a long-lost Van Gogh painting that spent years in a Norwegian attic believed to be by another painter. It is the first full-size canvas by him discovered since 1928. Sunset at Montmajour depicts trees, bushes and sky, painted with Van Gogh’s familiar thick brush strokes. It can be dated to the exact day it was painted because he described it in a letter to his brother, Theo, and said he painted it the previous day July 4, 1888.
In 1991, twenty paintings were stolen from the museum, among them Van Gogh’s early painting The Potato Eaters. Although the thieves escaped from the building, 35 minutes later all stolen paintings were recovered from an abandoned car. Three paintings – Wheatfield with Crows, Still Life with Bible, and Still Life with Fruit – were severely torn during the theft. Four men, including two museum guards, were convicted for the theft and given six or seven-year sentences. It is considered to be the largest art theft in the Netherlands since the Second World War.
In 2002, two paintings were stolen from the museum, Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen and View of the Sea at Scheveningen. Two Dutchmen were convicted for the theft to four-and-a-half-year sentences, but the paintings were never recovered. The museum has offered a reward of €100,000 for information that leads to the recovery of the paintings. The FBI Art Crime Team has listed the robbery on their Top Ten Art Crimes list, and estimates the combined value of the paintings at 30 million US dollars.
The museum is situated at the Museumplein in Amsterdam-Zuid, on the Paulus Potterstraat 7, between the Stedelijk Museum and the Rijksmuseum. The museum consists of two buildings, the Rietveld building, designed byGerrit Rietveld, and the Kurokawa wing, designed by Kisho Kurokawa. The museum offices are housed on Stadhouderskade 55 in Amsterdam-Zuid.
The Rietveld building is the main structure of the museum and exhibits the permanent collection. The building has a rectangular floor plan and is four stories high. On the ground floor are a shop, a café, and the introductory part of the art exhibition. The first floor shows the works of Van Gogh grouped chronologically. The second floor gives information about the restoration of paintings and has a space for minor temporary exhibitions. The third floor shows paintings of Van Gogh’s contemporaries in relationship to the work of Van Gogh himself.
The Kurokawa wing is used for major temporary exhibitions. The building has an oval floor plan and is three stories high. The entrance to the Kurokawa wing is via an underground tunnel from the Rietveld building.
Works by Vincent van Gogh
The Van Gogh Museum has the largest Van Gogh collection in the world. It comprises 200 paintings, 400 drawings, and 700 letters by Vincent van Gogh.
The main exhibition chronicles the various phases of Van Gogh’s artistic life.
His selected works from Nuenen (1880–1885):
- Avenue of Poplars in Autumn (1884)
- The Potato Eaters (1885)
His selected works from Antwerp (1886):
- Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette (1886)
His selected works from Paris (1886–1888):
- Agostina Segatori Sitting in the Café du Tambourin (1887)
- Wheat Field with a Lark (1887)
- View of Paris from Vincent’s Room in the Rue Lepic (1887)
His selected works from Arles (1888–1889):
- The Zouave (1888)
- Bedroom in Arles (1888)
- The Yellow House (1888)
- Sunflowers (1889)
His selected works from Saint-Rémy (1889–1890):
- Almond Blossoms (1890)
And his selected works from Auvers-sur-Oise (1890):
- Wheatfield with Crows (1890)
The permanent collection also includes nine of the artist’s self-portraits and some of his earliest paintings dating back to 1882.