22/02/2024

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Van Gogh Museum Review: Exploring The Masterpieces Of The Genius

11 min read
Van Gogh Museum Review: Exploring The Masterpieces Of The Genius

Are you planning to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Netherlands? I got you covered. During my recent trip to Amsterdam, I went to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Museumplein.

I’m sure you’ve likely come across the name Vincent van Gogh, maybe in an art class, a song, a documentary, or even a casual conversation.

The Van Gogh Museum is not just another art gallery; it’s a portal that transports visitors into the whirlwind world of Vincent.

Van Gogh Museum History and Background:

Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat - Vincent Van Gogh - Van Gogh Museum
Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat – Vincent Van Gogh, 1887
Photo Credit: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
(Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Born on 30th March 1853 in Zundert, Netherlands. Vincent van Gogh was a revolutionary artist who transformed the canvas with his raw emotion and style.

Though his life was fraught with personal challenges and many trials and tribulations, van Gogh’s passion for art never wavered.

His works, characterized by bold colors and emotive brushwork, capture the essence of the world around him, from landscapes to starry nights.

Vincent, though celebrated today as one of the most influential figures in the history of Western art, wasn’t met with widespread recognition during his lifetime.

In a mere decade, he produced over 2,000 artworks, ranging from oil paintings and watercolors to drawings and sketches.

His influence can be seen far and wide in art and culture, serving as inspiration for myriad books, films, and musical pieces.

Now, onto the museum itself. The Van Gogh Museum owes its existence to the dedicated efforts of Vincent’s younger brother, Theo van Gogh, his widow, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, and his nephew Vincent Willem.

Recognizing the significance of Vincent’s work, they laid the foundation for what would later become an iconic institution dedicated to preserving and showcasing the artist’s legacy.

The Vincent van Gogh Museum officially opened in 1973, the renowned architect Gerrit Rietveld designed the museum, ensuring that even the building itself was a piece of art.

Lieuwe van Gogh is the great-great-nephew of Vincent van Gogh, who’s also making his name and mark in the Dutch art scene. Lieuwe’s artistic style is more bold, vibrant, and has a graffiti culture influence to it. He debuted his first art exhibition in 2022 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

The Museum’s Architecture

Facade of Van Gogh Museum in Museumplein in Amsterdam Netherlands
Facade of Van Gogh Museum in Museumplein in Amsterdam Netherlands

The museum building is a blend of modernist ideals and innovative design.

Crafted by the visionary Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld, the museum’s initial structure, completed in 1973, is a testament to Rietveld’s minimalist yet impactful style.

Think clean lines, geometric forms, and an intuitive flow that guides visitors effortlessly from one exhibit to another.

The museum’s architecture holds a mirror to the period it was constructed, echoing the ideals of the 1970s Dutch Modernism.

It emphasizes functionality without compromising on aesthetics. Large windows interspersed throughout ensure that natural light bathes the interior, allowing the artworks to shine in their true essence.

A notable addition to the museum is the Exhibition Wing, which was integrated into the complex in 1999. Designed by the Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, this wing adds a contrasting layer of modernity.

The elliptical shape, combined with its transparent features, makes it a standout. It’s a harmonious juxtaposition—Rietveld’s strict angular lines meeting Kurokawa’s fluid curves.

Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam Netherlands
Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam Netherlands

Another intriguing design element? The museum’s ingenious use of open spaces.

These spaces, both within and surrounding the museum, aren’t just voids; they’re purposeful areas that offer visitors moments of reflection and relaxation amidst their art-filled journey.

Since the Van Gogh Museum is located in the Museumplein, it is a perfect spot for a picnic and soak in the sun (if there’s any, you know the Dutch weather can be gloomy most of the time).

Ryazan Tristram in Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam Netherlands
Ryazan Tristram in Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam Netherlands

The Van Gogh Art Collection

Central to the museum’s collection is, of course, the work of the maestro himself – Vincent van Gogh. Housing over 200 of his paintings, the museum boasts an extensive display of his life’s work.

The Potato Eaters - Vincent Van Gogh-Van Gogh Museum
The Potato Eaters – Vincent Van Gogh, 1885
Photo Credit: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
(Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Visitors can witness firsthand the evolution of his style, from the deep, somber tones of “The Potato Eaters” to the vibrant yellow hues of the “Sunflowers” and the colourful tones of “The Bedroom“, are some of my favourite Van Gogh paintings as part of the permanent collection of the museum.

Sunflowers - Vincent Van Gogh - Van Gogh Museum
Sunflowers – Vincent Van Gogh, 1889
Photo Credit: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
(Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

Each painting, a testament to his genius, offers a glimpse into van Gogh’s world, his passions, struggles, and inspirations.

The Bedroom - Vincent van Gogh - Van Gogh Museum
The Bedroom – Vincent van Gogh 1888
Photo Credit: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
(Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

While the spotlight predominantly shines on van Gogh, the museum ensures it casts its light on other artists who either influenced or were contemporaries of Vincent.

Pieces by Paul Gauguin, Émile Bernard, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec find a harmonious space here, allowing visitors to understand the broader artistic milieu of the late 19th century.

Beyond the well-known paintings, visitors can explore an extensive assembly of van Gogh’s sketches, letters, and personal items.

Vincent van Gogh letter to Theo - Vincent Van Gogh 1885 Van Gogh Museum
Vincent van Gogh, Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh with a sketch of The Potato Eaters, Nuenen, 9 April 1885, pen and ink on paper, 20.7 x 26.4 cm, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation) Letter 492.

These artifacts, often overshadowed by his more famous paintings, offer an unfiltered look into his creative process and personal life.

The detailed scribbles, the choice of colors, and even the strokes of his pen on paper provide a raw and intimate understanding of the artist.

Van Gogh Museum Visitor Experience

The museum spans multiple levels, each dedicated to different phases of van Gogh’s life or thematic collections.

As you move forward, you’re essentially moving chronologically, witnessing the progression of Vincent’s artistic journey.

The design ensures a coherent narrative, letting the artworks unfold in a manner that makes sense to even those unfamiliar with van Gogh’s biography.

Museum details:

📍 Address: Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam, Netherlands
⏰ Opening Hours: Mon – Fri 9 am to 5 pm | Sat-Sun 10 am to 6 pm
🎫 Tickets: € 20. As of 1 January 2024: € 22
🛍️ Where to buy the tickets?Van Gogh Museum Ticket (Get Your Guide) | Guided tours and Skip the line (Get Your Guide)

A commendable aspect of the museum is its commitment to inclusivity. Accessibility for visitors with disabilities has been thoughtfully integrated.

Everyone, irrespective of physical challenges, can immerse themselves in the art and legacy of van Gogh.

To enrich your exploration, the museum offers guided tours and audio guides.

Audio guides are available in multiple languages, they offer detailed insights, anecdotes, and contextual information, bringing each artwork to life.

💡recommended tours from get your guide

Exhibitions and Events

A standout feature of the Van Gogh Museum is its temporary exhibitions.

These are curated masterfully, often shining a spotlight on themes resonating with van Gogh’s works, artists who might have inspired him, or even contemporary art that draws parallels with Vincent’s vision.

During my visit, the exhibition was about “Van Gogh and the Sunflowers,” which dived deep into the story behind one of his most iconic paintings.

I was truly moved and in awe to see the restorations and different versions of the iconic Sunflower painting. I ended up buying a big poster, as memorabilia of that visit.

You can find the current and past exhibitions at the Van Gogh Museum here.

A great special event in bringing Vincent van Gogh’s masterpieces to the world is the “Official Meet Vincent van Gogh Experience” and the “Van Gogh Immersive Experience“.

This is a touring exhibition with the aim of enhancing the art experience that can still resonate with the younger and modern audience.

Behind-the-Scenes

Watch the conservation process of Vincent van Gogh’s painting – Sunflowers

Central to the museum’s mission is the conservation and preservation of the artworks.

After all, these pieces aren’t just painted on canvas; they’re fragile fragments of history.

This involves monitoring environmental conditions, assessing potential threats to the artworks, and, when necessary, carrying out restorations that respect and retain the essence of the piece with the help of modern technology.

The curatorial process and research activities play a pivotal role in the museum’s dynamic.

A team of experts continuously delves into the depths of van Gogh’s works, seeking to unravel mysteries, explore new perspectives, and bring forth fresh interpretations.

This research often culminates in those captivating temporary exhibitions, enriching our understanding of Vincent and the broader art landscape of his time.

Museum Cafe and Gift Shop

I am sure you’ll be tired and hungry after going through the vibrant canvases and captivating stories of the Van Gogh Museum.

The museum’s cafe is more than just a spot to grab a quick bite. With its tastefully designed interiors and large windows, it offers a serene space to relax and soak in the museum’s ambiance.

Van Gogh Museum gift shop in Amsterdam Netherlands
Part of the Flagship store at the Van Gogh Museum (Museumplein 6).
Photo: Jan-Kees Steenman.

The gift shop beckons with its eclectic array of souvenirs and art-related items.

From high-quality prints of Vincent’s masterpieces and art books brimming with insights to quirky stationery and handcrafted jewelry inspired by his iconic motifs, every item echoes the museum’s spirit.

Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh
Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh poster displayed at our home.

Of course, I had to get a Van Gogh souvenir as a remembrance. I bought a massive poster of the “Sunflowers” painting. It is now currently displayed in our home.

💡recommended tours from get your guide

Travel Tips for Visitors

For my international travelers, if the Van Gogh Museum is on your travel bucket list (and it should be!), some prep work can make your journey smooth and enjoyable.

How to get to the Van Gogh Museum:

Whether hopping over from the UK, another European country, or flying in from the USA, these travel tidbits will have you navigating Amsterdam like a pro.

If you are flying from the USA, Direct flights from major U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago land you in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

If you are flying from the UK, it is a short flight from any of the UK airports, roughly around 45 minutes. I recommend checking Skyscanner to check your best flight deals.

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I love good flight deals! If you are looking for the best airline fares for your vacation, I recommend searching for the latest deals on Skyscanner. They will show the best comparison flight deals between airlines that will suit your budget and schedule.

From the Schipol airport, the museum is easily accessible. Hop on a train to Amsterdam Centraal; from there, trams and buses will take you to the Museumplein where the Van Gogh Museum is located.

You can take the Tramlines from Amsterdam Centraal Station :
– Tram #2 to Oudenaardeplantsoen
– Tram # 12 to Victorieplein

If you are taking the bus from Amsterdam Centraal Station, Bus N84.

If you’re keen on soaking in the city’s vibe, a pleasant bike ride from the central station through Amsterdam’s iconic streets is a delightful option.

Map of Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, NL

HOW TO USE THIS MAP TO BOOK YOUR RESERVATIONS:

CLICK the YELLOW MARKER OR THE DROP DOWN MENU next to the title to see the various things to do and point of interest in this guide and CHOOSE your desired preview of the map, whether HOTELS & RENTALS, EXPERIENCES, RESTAURANTS OR OTHERS. Feel free to use the filters, number of guests, and your preferred dates. You can see more information about the different attractions (the GREEN MARKERS) when you click the icons, as well as finding your perfect accommodation that will suit your budget and location. You could also book your guided tours and restaurants using the map.

Foreign Exchange: Money

Dollars or Sterling Pounds won’t get you far in Amsterdam, so let’s talk currency and payment options.

The Netherlands uses the Euro (€).

I prefer to use the Wise Travel Card, it gives me flexibility in transferring and handling my Euro expenses. You can read my Money Card Digital Wallet for Travel Abroad: Effortless Transactions on the Go.

Before your trip, notify your bank about your travel dates to avoid any card hiccups abroad.

Language:

Language barriers? Fear not. While Dutch is the official language, English is widely spoken, especially in tourist hubs like the museum.

Here are some basic Dutch words that you can use to add a bit of warmth to your conversation:
Thank you = Dank je (pronounced as “dahnk juh”)
Thanks a lot = Dank je wel (pronounced as “dahnk juh well”)
No = Nee (pronounced as “neɪ”)

Travel insurance:

Lastly, travel insurance and safety tips: While Amsterdam is generally safe for tourists, it’s always wise to be prepared.

Invest in comprehensive travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost belongings.

I recommend using Safety Wing Travel Insurance, they are fully comprehensive and reliable. You can also adjust the coverage depending on number of days and coverage.

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If you are looking for reliable and comprehensive travel insurance, I highly recommend SafetyWing. They offer flexible and affordable travel insurance for travellers or digital nomads. Rest assured that you are covered for whatever travel emergencies.

As for safety, basic precautions like not leaving belongings unattended and being aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas, go a long way.

Is Van Gogh Museum Worth visiting?

Yes, I highly recommend to visit the Van Gogh Museum. Make sure to include it on your things to do in Amsterdam list.

For anyone with even a fleeting interest in art, the Van Gogh Museum is not just a recommendation; it’s a must-visit.

This museum is more than just a building housing paintings; it’s a living testament to the enduring spirit of Vincent van Gogh, a man whose art transcended his turbulent life to touch souls globally.

It promises a journey through time through the eyes of one of the most iconic artists in history.

So, to all the art enthusiasts reading this, pack your bags (real or imaginary) and set forth on a journey to the Van Gogh Museum.

Let Vincent’s world envelop you, teach you, and inspire you.

It’s not just about viewing paintings; it’s about experiencing a legacy that, despite the odds, has stood resilient against time.

💡recommended tours from get your guide

Van Gogh Museum Review Exploring the Masterpieces of the Genius pin
Van Gogh Museum Review: Exploring the Masterpieces of the Genius

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ryazan Tristram EverythingZany Author Bio

Ryazan Tristram

Travel Writer & Photographer

Ryazan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. She also has more than 10 years of work experience gained from working in the hotel and travel sectors in Asia and Europe. Her work has been featured and published in BBC, Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Discovery Channel, World Travel Guide, MSN, CNBC, GMA, Daily Mail UK, Lonely Planet, and many more. She is currently living in the UK as a dual citizen (British-Filipina). Join her in travelling around the UK, Europe, and beyond with a mission to promote sustainable tourism and share travel guides, travel tips, foodies, history, and culture.

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