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  13. Netherlands: Amsterdam – The...

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.

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.

In summary …

  • For us, this is one of the things we really wanted to do whilst we were in Amsterdam – and it was worth it!
  • It gets busy and they limit through timed ticket entry, so it is best to book ahead online
  • There is no photography allowed inside the main galleries of the museum

Planning your visit

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.

Address:Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam
Websitehttps://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/
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

 

 

 

Best time to visit Amsterdam

The Dutch capital is fascinating and full of energy all year long, but if you are set on sightseeing as much as possible, spring and early fall are the best times to visit Amsterdam. The weather is mild, you’re more likely to see sun than rain, and the crowds are down to manageable sizes. This is the best time to score deals outside of winter, and even if you have to wait in line to enter or board your favourite attraction, at least the weather outside is likely to be nice.

Vegan friendly dining in Amsterdam

1. VEGAN JUNK FOOD BAR

The Vegan Junk Food Bar is a small chain of restaurants, with four locations in Amsterdam and one in Rotterdam. During our couple of days stay in Amsterdam we tried two locations, one on Staringplein and the other on Marie Heinekenplein. Both were excellent and very busy, with mainly young people – which is great to see and makes me hopeful for the future.

2. MR BLOU I LOVE YOU

‘Mr. Blou’ started his street food stall in October 2017, at the kiosk on the other side of the police station at Marnixstraat. He started cooking twelve years ago and worked in several restaurants in Paris, and Michelin star restaurants Bridges and at The Okura in Amsterdam. After developing burnout and quitting his job, he did a fair bit of travelling. It was in Singapore where he discovered a street food stall so good, it actually had a Michelin star!

Back in Amsterdam he voluntarily cooked for a while for Syrian refugees. From all the things he made, they loved his falafel the most. That’s how the idea for the street food stall got shape, and in the tradition of French chefs, he named it after himself. And the falafel became his signature dish.

Where to stay?

1. HOTEL NOT HOTEL

In my exploration of unusual places to stay, I was delighted to find, when scouring the hospitality websites, the Hotel Not Hotel. This is a very unique place with just a few rooms but they are all somewhat quirky, ranging from rooms hidden behind bookcases to a VW camper and tramcar

2. SWEETS HOTEL

Having spent two nights in a tramcar at the Hotel Not Hotel in Amsterdam I decided to switch to somewhere else for a night. Truth be known I could only get two nights at the Hotel Not Hotel, so the change was pretty much enforced – but I was glad to try a different place. I had been thinking about stopping on a houseboat – a must-do thing when staying in Amsterdam, but it was really, really expensive. Yet I found the next best thing, which sounded really cool – a bridge house on the canal.

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