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The Van Gogh museum is dedicated to the works of this great and troubled artist

The Van Gogh Museum is dedicated to the life and works of the celebrated impressionist Vincent Van Gogh (1853–1890). Van Gogh tried his hand at a few different professions; junior clerk at an art firm, teacher, bookseller, student and preacher: Vincent van Gogh was all of these before he decided at the age of 27 to become an artist. He struggled with mental illness and remained poor and virtually unknown throughout his life, spending time in a sanatorium. Eventually, everything got too much and on July 27, 1890, Vincent van Gogh went out to paint in the morning carrying a loaded pistol and shot himself in the chest, but the bullet did not kill him. He was found bleeding in his room, yet lived for a couple more days before dying in the arms of his brother. He was aged 27.

The Museum

Address: Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam
Hours: 9 am to 6 pm, Fridays 9 am to 9 pm. Open on public holidays (check the hours)
Admission fees: Adults: € 19.00. Children under the age of 18 are free
Google Map

By far the best way to get to the museum is to use public transport, in fact, the best way to get around Amsterdam is by using public transport! Several tram routes stop directly outside the museum. The Van Gogh Museum is very close to the Rijksmuseum which is incredibly well served by trams.

Entry to the Museum is relatively inexpensive and entry is free for those under 18 years old.

There is one thing to note, photography is not allowed in the exhibition galleries. So, some of the photos I have included are from the Museum’s website.

We do like to try and avoid the crowds, so as always it is good to get there early as it can get busy as the day goes on.

Another thing we recommend is to use the audio-guided tour – it is available in 11 different languages. You can rent a unit at the museum for a few €5 (€3 for those less than 17).

The story of Vincent Van Gogh is told across three floors, starting with his early life through to the artist of World renown. The pieces of artwork are staged to show his development as an artist, together with the works of other artists who influenced him.

Sadly, many of Van Gogh’s works are located around the World, in private and public ownership. Luckily, he was a prolific artist (creating around 2100 works over a 10 year period) so there is still much to see at the museum.

The use of the audio tour really helped to understand Van Gogh’s journey, from his middle-class upbringing to his early demise at the age of 37. His issues with mental illness are well documented, which included psychotic episodes and delusions. He was self-aware of his mental stability, but as is often the case it resulted in him neglecting his physical health; eating badly and drinking heavily. His relationship with fellow artist Paul Gauguin ended after an incident with a razor which ended in him famously cutting off part of his left ear. Finally, his despair drove him to shoot himself in the chest. He died a few days later. Unfortunately, creative genius and mental health are constant partners in many great people.

Beyond the main galleries there was a special exhibition running during our visit, simply called “Sunflowers”, after one of Van Gogh’s most famous still-life studies. After the formal main galleries, it was a breath of fresh air to wander through the first few rooms of “Sunflowers”. Here you are immersed in a sound and light experience. Bird song fills the air whilst you walk through a field of virtual sunflowers, made from stems and glass-petaled flowers.I believe the creators of this exhibit are taking you into the mind of Van Gogh and his perspective of the natural world. After setting the scene you enter a more formal gallery where the original painting of the Sunflower’s sits.

Actually, the Sunflower painting is not a single painting but a set of paintings that were created in his studio in Arles. He created two sunflower paintings to hang in a guest room in the Yellow House to celebrate the visit of his great friend Paul Gauguin (which didn’t work out too well).

This final gallery is quite large and tells the whole story behind the development of this series of paintings, and the renovation work that has bought them back somewhere to their original glory.

Overall, whether you are a fan of Van Gogh and the impressionist movement, this is a fascinating museum dedicated to a single artist. Unlike the Rijksmuseum, you can get around this museum comfortably in 90 minutes and not have felt like you have skimmed and not done justice to the place.

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