There is no question that we have been to a lot of different museums over the years. It’s hard to characterize any particular one that stands out or a particular focus that was the most pleasing. Sure, we have been to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay in Paris, we have toured various Chateaus in the Loire Valley in France, we have been to the Railroad Museum in Sacramento California and to a number of the museums in Washington DC. However, the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands stands out for both the quality of the art being presented and the way it is presented.
The Kröller-Müller Museum is a national art museum and sculpture garden founded by art collector Helene Kröller-Müller and opened in 1938. Helene was one of the first European women to put together a major art collection. Her father was a prosperous supplier of raw materials to the mining and steel industries and married a Dutch shipping and mining tycoon, Anton Kröller in 1888. Her husband eventually took over her father’s business and expanded it into a huge enterprise. After taking an art class in 1907, she started buying both contemporary artists work but also recognized the genius of Vincent van Gogh and acquired a large collection of his works.
In the mid 1930’s she had acquired so much art that it filled 3 of their various (large) homes and was determined to turn it all into a museum.
Eventually she was able to broker a deal with the state to purchase a large tract of land with the intention of creating a museum for her collection. Needless to say, things didn’t happen as quickly as she would have liked but eventually a building was designed and built and she became the first Curator of the Museum.
The Museum is about 80km from Amsterdam but our boat was docked in Arnhem so the bus ride to the Museum took about 40 minutes. Along the way our guide provided background information about the Museum and its collection plus the sights along the way.
Situated in a National Park (there was over 55 square km in size) and surrounded by fields and trees, the Museum itself is not an imposing building – but a collection of three or four single story brick buildings with a sculpture garden around the backside.
OK, clearly the highlights of the collection are varied, but Vincent van Gogh clearly is a major focus. The Museum has the second-largest collection of his paintings including some of the most well know works – Café Terrace at Night, Sorrowing Old Man, The Potato Eaters and many others. However, Helene also collected works by Piet Mondrian, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso
and many others. Upon entering the Museum, we were met by our guide, Iris,
who did a FANTASTIC job of showing us around the place to present the highlights of the collection.
At each stop she was able to give us a wealth of information about the artist and how it became part of the collection.
In some cases she was able to give us a point of reference to better understand the painting and how it became part of the collection.
Throughout our tour the amount of information and the way the art was displayed was fantastic.
I can safely say this was one of the most enjoyable art museums we have visited.