The Van Gogh Museum is a Dutch art museum dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries in Amsterdam; it is located at the Museum Square in the borough Amsterdam South, close to the Stedelijk Museum, the Rijksmuseum, and the Concertgebouw.Museumplein, I Amsterdam. Retrieved 17 October 2012. The museum opened on 2 June 1973, Ronald de Leeuw, "Introduction: the Van Gogh Museum as a National Museum, 1973-1994", Van Gogh Museum Journal, 1995. Retrieved 9 July 2014. and its buildings were designed by Gerrit Rietveld and Kisho Kurokawa.
The museum contains the largest collection of Van Gogh's paintings and drawings in the world. In 2017, the museum had 2.3 million visitors, and was the most visited museum in the Netherlands, and the 23rd most visited art museum in the world. In 2019, the Van Gogh Museum launched the Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience, a technology-driven "immersive exhibition" on Van Gogh's life and works, which has toured globally.
Upon Vincent van Gogh's death in 1890, his work not sold fell into the possession of his brother Theo. Theo died six months after Vincent, leaving the work in the possession of his widow, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger. Selling many of Vincent's paintings with the ambition of spreading knowledge of his artwork, Johanna maintained a private collection of his works. The collection was inherited by her son Vincent Willem van Gogh in 1925, eventually loaned to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam where it was displayed for many years, and was transferred to the state-initiated Vincent van Gogh Foundation in 1962.
Design for a Van Gogh Museum was commissioned by the Dutch government in 1963 to Dutch architect and furniture designer Gerrit Rietveld. Rietveld died a year later, and the building was not completed until 1973, when the museum opened its doors.The Organization, Van Gogh Museum. Retrieved 30 January 2012. In 1998 and 1999, the building was renovated by the Dutch architect Martien van Goor,The museum's architecture in overview, Van Gogh Museum. Retrieved 6 February 2012. and an exhibition wing by the Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa was added. In late 2012, the museum was closed for renovations for six months. During this period, 75 works from the collection were shown in the Hermitage Amsterdam.Dan Saltzstein, "Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum to Close for Renovations", New York Times, 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
On 9 September 2013, the museum unveiled a long-lost Van Gogh painting that spent years in a Norwegian attic believed to be by another painter. It is the first full-size canvas by him discovered since 1928. Sunset at Montmajour depicts trees, bushes and sky, painted with Van Gogh's familiar thick brush strokes. It can be dated to the exact day it was painted because he described it in a letter to his brother, Theo, and said he painted it the previous day 4 July 1888.
In 1991, twenty paintings were stolen from the museum, among them Van Gogh's early painting The Potato Eaters. Although the thieves escaped from the building, 35 minutes later all stolen paintings were recovered from an abandoned car. Three paintings – Wheatfield with Crows, Still Life with Bible, and Still Life with Fruit – were severely torn during the theft. Four men, including two museum guards, were convicted for the theft and given six or seven-year sentences. It is considered to be the largest art theft in the Netherlands since the Second World War.
In 2002, two paintings were stolen from the museum, Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen and View of the Sea at Scheveningen. Two Dutchmen were convicted for the theft to four-and-a-half-year sentences, but the paintings were not immediately recovered. The museum offered a reward of €100,000 for information leading to the recovery of the paintings. The FBI Art Crime Team listed the robbery on their Top Ten Art Crimes list, and estimates the combined value of the paintings at US$30million. In September 2016, both paintings were discovered by the Guardia di Finanza in Naples, Italy. The two artworks were found in a "relatively good state", according to the Van Gogh Museum.
The museum is situated at the Museumplein in Amsterdam-Zuid, on the Paulus Potterstraat 7, between the Stedelijk Museum and the Rijksmuseum, and consists of two buildings, the Rietveld building, designed by Gerrit Rietveld, and the Kurokawa wing, designed by Kisho Kurokawa. Museum offices are housed on Stadhouderskade 55 in Amsterdam-Zuid.
The Rietveld building is the main structure and houses the permanent collection. It has a rectangular floor plan and is four stories high. On the ground floor are a shop, a café, and an introductory exhibition. The first floor shows the works of Van Gogh grouped chronologically. The second floor gives information about the restoration of paintings and has a space for minor temporary exhibitions. The third floor shows paintings of Van Gogh's contemporaries in relationship to the work of Van Gogh himself.
The Kurokawa wing is used for major temporary exhibitions. It has an oval floor plan and is three stories high. The entrance to the Kurokawa wing is via a tunnel from the Rietveld building.
Works by Vincent van Gogh
The Painter of Sunflowers, a portrayal of Vincent van Gogh painting sunflowers by Paul Gauguin, 1888
The museum houses the largest Van Gogh collection in the world with 200 paintings, 400 drawings, and 700 letters by the artist.
The main exhibition chronicles the various phases of Van Gogh's artistic life.
The permanent collection also includes nine of the artist's self-portraits and some of his earliest paintings dating back to 1882.
Works by contemporaries
The museum also features notable artworks by Van Gogh's contemporaries in the Impressionist and post-Impressionist movements and holds extensive exhibitions on various subjects from 19th Century art history.
The museum has sculptures by Auguste Rodin and Jules Dalou, and paintings by John Russell, Émile Bernard, Maurice Denis, Kees van Dongen, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Odilon Redon, Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience
The Van Gogh Museum manages an official Meet Vincent Van Gogh Experience, described as a travelling "3D immersive exhibition" using technology and computer audio-visual techniques to cover the story of Van Gogh's life through images of his works. The first "experience" was in 2016 in Beijing, and it has since been toured globally to Europe, Asia and North America.
The Meet Van Gogh Experience does not present original artworks, as they are too fragile to travel. The "experience" was designed in collaboration with the London-based museum design consultancy, Event Communications (who designed Titanic Belfast), and it won a 2017 THEA award in the category of Immersive Museum Exhibit: Touring.