Destination Museums: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
The Post-Impressionist painter, Vincent Van Gogh, is the most famous Dutch artist by a significant margin. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is dedicated to the life and work of the man whose genius was not realized until after he had passed in 1890, aged just 37. It opened in June 1973, at Museumplein (Museum Square) in the borough of Amsterdam South. Originally consisting of just a single four-story building, it was complemented by an elliptical three-story exhibition annex designed by innovative Japanese architect, Kisho Kurokawa, in 1999.
The museum is a major tourist draw – the second most visited art museum in the Netherlands and 31st in the world, with over 2 million individuals experiencing the works of Van Gogh and several of his contemporaries in 2016. It is the very best destination for a Van Gogh enthusiast and also for anyone who appreciates the essence behind the evolution of an artist’s style. His characteristic bold, colorful strokes emerged only after an initial spell of more restrained and mundane fare and the journey is tracked in chronological order.
The Museum actively advocates for youth involvement in art and art appreciation, and runs several programs to attract a wider demographic. One of them is ‘Yoga: Facing Van Gogh’, which incorporates yoga into an experience of appreciating art. Their ‘Taste Colours’ initiative is a world-first combination of art, beer, taste and color. Friday is perhaps the most fun with free guided tours complimented with cocktails, music and video shows on the walls and live DJs. It is open till 10 p.m. instead of the usual 6 p.m. on Fridays. To appeal to the little ones, the museum has free treasure hunts and interactive programs. In fact, all children below the age of 18 do not pay an entry fee (adults pay € 17).
The Van Gogh Museum is dedicated to not just artistic pursuits but also has a remarkable environmentally-friendly policy. The building itself is certified by Dutch Green Building Council (DGBC) and lauded for its use of clean, sustainable energy, clear-cut policy that minimizes water and energy consumption and deals with waste responsibly. Excellent facilities for the differently-abled include free wheelchair loan, complimentary access for carers, priority entrance and special tours.
Museum Square is very conveniently located, accessible by buses, trams, cars and the local favorite, bicycles. It is adjacent to the Rijksmuseum (Dutch National Museum), Royal Concertgebouw (Royal Concert Building) and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (Dutch Municipal Museum). The museum is especially crowded in the summer, and you should avoid the peak hours between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. every day.