Based in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, close to the Stedelijk Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Concertgebouw, the Van Gogh Museum has focused on the work of the most famous of the Dutch painters, and many of his contemporaries. It is the most visited art gallery and museum in the Netherlands, and exists thanks largely to van Gogh’s family, who wanted to spread the knowledge of his art. Originally displaying it at the Sedelijk Museum, they later transferred it to the Vincent van Gogh Foundation as it established in 1962, and plans began to be made for an art museum dedicated to his works.
Opened in 1973, this great art gallery is arranged across two buildings and several spaces focused on specific exhibitions. These include a permanent collection of van Gogh’s paintings displayed chronologically to show his evolution as an artist, work by his contemporaries including a collection of French art prints, and a space for major temporary exhibitions.
Exhibitions also focus on the key subject areas of the museum, with van Gogh centric exhibitions including his masterpieces, focusing on the development of a single original artwork, or displaying collections of his letters. Work of his contemporaries is explored through exhibits of work he inspired, or was inspired by, or looks into techniques like the use of colour by various artists. Deeper understanding of it all is provided by guided tours for each exhibit, painting workshops, and a range of programs for children. It’s little surprise that a comparatively new and very focused art museum is so highly rated by visitors.
The Van Gogh Art Museum covers every facet of his career, and his world
As you would expect, the museum holds the largest single collection of van Gogh’s work in the world, around 200 paintings, 400 drawings, and 700 letters giving insight to the man himself. Amongst the paintings are The Potato Eaters, Bedroom in Arles, and one of his most famous works, Sunflowers. Seeing the work chronologically allows visitors to see how van Goghs ideas developed, and his experiments with style, form, and colour to express different ideas. When a casual viewer is only familiar with a handful of pieces by any one artist, such immersion can bring a very fresh perspective on that artist, and the artistic process.
The contemporaries collection is also strong, offering a number of impressionist and post impressionist artists such as Rodin, Gauguin, Manet, Monet, Seurat, Signac, and Toulouse-Lautrec. These are not an after thought, and are subject to specific exhibitions to better educate visitors on the art world around van Gogh as well, and the ideas that were filtering into the new modern art movement and it’s early impressionist phases.
One of the features the Van Gogh art museum is best known for is one of it’s most recent, the Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience which takes a deep dive through his works, inspirations, and ideas through a combination of video, photography, sound, and computer graphics. Helping to bring the artist to life, and explain much of the intent and purpose of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting, the exhibit has proved so popular that a touring version of it has spent several years travelling the world for people to experience.
A rare single artist focused great art gallery
The museum is popular, with millions of visitors every year, but punches well above it’s weight in terms of visitor feedback and international ranking systems; many put it above The Louvre.
Single artist focused art galleries or collections are easy to criticise for being monotonous, particularly for a Modern Artist like van Gogh who isn’t always understood, but the visitor reaction shows how much value can come from a deeper immersion into one artist’s work, compared against a surface level glance at hundreds of artists in a more traditional collection.