Van Gogh Museum
Good for: Art lovers, History Lovers, Artists, the curious, Families
Not good for: those in a hurry
Lonely Planet review for Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum is one of Amsterdam’s must-sees. Opened in 1973 to house the collection of Vincent’s younger brother Theo, it consists of about 200 paintings and 500 drawings by Vincent and his friends and contemporaries, such as Gauguin, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec and Bernard. Vincent van Gogh was born in 1853 and had a short but astonishingly productive life. Through his paintings, the museum chronicles his journey from Holland, where his work was dark and sombre, to Paris, where, under the influence of the impressionists, he discovered vivid colour. From there he moved to Arles, where he was incredibly productive, often completing a canvas every day. Astoundingly Van Gogh was self-taught as a painter and had a career that spanned less than a decade. A volatile character liable to mood swings, he famously cut off his ear after an argument with Gauguin. In 1890, while in the depths of depression, he finally committed suicide. He would come to be regarded as a giant among artists, but during his lifetime Van Gogh sold only a single painting. Famous works on display include The Potato Eaters (1885), an example of his sombre Dutch period, The Yellow House in Arles (1888), The Bedroom (1888), several self-portraits, and still lifes of sunflowers and other blossoms that shimmer with intense Mediterranean light. One of his last paintings, Wheatfield with Crows (1890), is an ominous work finished shortly before his suicide. The permanent collection also includes many of the artist’s personal effects. Van Gogh received a milk jug from Theo and used it in several works. You’ll also see family bibles that he used as subjects for his canvases. Van Gogh’s paintings are on the 1st floor; several other floors display his drawings and Japanese prints, and works by his friends, contemporaries and others he influenced, some of which are shown in rotation. The library (Museumplein 4; 10am-12.30pm & 1.30-5pm Mon-Fri) has a wealth of reference material for serious study. The museum’s main building was designed by Gerrit Rietveld, the seminal Dutch architect. Behind it, reaching onto Museumplein, is a separate exhibition wing (1999) designed by Kishio Kurokawa, commonly referred to as ‘the Mussel’. Entrance queues can be long, as only so many visitors are allowed inside at a time. Come before 11am or else on a Friday night, when the museum hosts special cultural events. I Amsterdam Card holders have a separate ‘fast’ lane for entry, but it can be almost as long as the regular queue. Advance ticket holders and Museumkaart owners fare the best in their quick-moving lane. Advance tickets are available online or at tourist information offices, with no surcharge. Our recommendation: buy your tix online!