Van Gogh Museum finally reopens

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Van Gogh Museum finally reopens
Gershwin Bonevacia, Amsterdam City Poet and contributor to the new exhibition Here to Stay, recites his poem ‘What we need’, written especially for today. The poem is an homage to (the importance of) culture, and to the city of Amsterdam. Photo: Jassir Jonis

AMSTERDAM.- The Van Gogh Museum today opened its doors to visitors for the first time in 2021, following 171 days of closure due to the national Covid-19 measures. The exhibition Here to Stay: A decade of remarkable acquisitions and their stories can therefore welcome physical visitors for the first time this year. This exhibition focuses on artworks that the museum has added to its collection in recent years: paintings, works on paper and sculptures by renowned and lesser-known artists are displayed alongside each other. The acquisitions featured in the exhibition are accompanied by a range of personal stories, from both museum staff and Amsterdam residents.

At 10.00 this morning, Gershwin Bonevacia, Amsterdam City Poet and one of those who contributed a story to Here to Stay, marked the reopening of the Van Gogh Museum with a recital of a poem written especially for the occasion. A tribute to culture and the city of Amsterdam: ‘What we need (…) Culture is the most important foundation, the city is fighting back with creativity, inspiration and connection. (…) At this time artists, creatives and conservators offer us perspective, a view of the future’. Following the recital, the first visitors were invited into the museum. After their visit, they were presented with a sunflower as a memento, thanks to Van Gogh Museum partner Takii.

The Van Gogh Museum guarantees the safest possible visit in accordance with all applicable measures outlined by the government. Visitors are required to book a ticket in advance. A limited number of tickets are available per start time, to ensure that visitors are able to adhere to social distancing requirements.

The exhibition Here to Stay is on display until 12 September. A newly-acquired work by Georges Lacombe, a contemporary of Van Gogh, is also on display in the permanent collection, while the series Compressed Landscapes – digital work by contemporary artist Jan Robert Leegte – is on display on the third floor of the museum. More information on the Van Gogh Museum’s current and upcoming exhibitions is available on the museum website.

Here to Stay finally revealed

Exactly four months later than planned, the exhibition Here to Stay: A decade of remarkable acquisitions and their stories can finally open to the public. The exhibition features the most striking and singular acquisitions from the last 10 years, and introduces the full extent of the museum’s collection area: from paintings and drawings to prints, sculptures and letters, and from works presented to the museum as gifts by individual donors to pieces acquired at auction. Perhaps unexpectedly, most of the more than 150 artworks in Here to Stay are by artists other than Van Gogh. Works by major names from Van Gogh’s time are on display, such as Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, but visitors can also discover artworks by lesser-known artists such as Henri Guérard and Adolphe Appian.

The stories associated with the acquisitions, presented in a dedicated app, are a significant aspect of the exhibition. The stories are told from various perspectives: those of curators and restorers, but also of collectors and of 10 Amsterdam residents, offering visitors a new take on the artworks and explicitly inviting them to consider their own personal perception in relation to the art – which, as public property, belongs to us all. A museum collection remains dynamic and relevant through collecting, by continuing to add new acquisitions. The artworks themselves are enriched by the range of stories, which present the works in different lights. For example, your perspective of Edvard Munch’s portrait of Felix Auerbach may change completely following curator Maite van Dijk’s story recounting the impact of Nazi Germany on the Jewish man’s life, and how many years later, his descendants once again came face-to-face with his portrait at the Van Gogh Museum. Or perhaps certain details in Toulouse-Lautrec’s The Female Clown at the Moulin rouge will stand out when curator Fleur Roos Rosa de Carvalho explains how unusual it is that this fragile print remains in such good condition, as if it had been printed just yesterday.

Especially for Here to Stay, a group of 10 Amsterdam residents were invited to offer their personal perspective on the artwork in the exhibition that most touched them. These 10 people, of different ages and with different backgrounds, represent an apt cross section of the city. For example, sustainable style coach Chiara Spruit shares her perspective of a work by Aristide Maillol, and a story by Mourad El Otmani, founder of Young Amsterdam, accompanies a drawing by Adolphe Appian. The other contributions from Amsterdam are by feminist and art historian Cathelijne Blok, illustrator Floor van het Nederend, art lover Mieke Haver de Graaf, youth worker and Van Gogh Museum Beeldbreker (‘ReFramer’) Yassin Tallih, local resident Coosje Wilterdink, retired designer and gardener Aad Groenendijk, student Feliz Haverkamp and Amsterdam City Poet Gershwin Bonevacia.


All of the stories in Here to Stay have been united in an app that was created especially for the exhibition, which can be opened for free using the QR code at the beginning of the exhibition. Visitors can select which stories they would like to read while viewing the artworks.

A multimedia guide has also been developed in the museum’s regular format, featuring recordings of a selection of the stories, many of which are recorded by the storytellers themselves.

Here to Stay: A decade of remarkable acquisitions and their stories has been extended and will be on display until 12 September. A virtual preview of the exhibition was launched in mid-March, and will remain available on the museum’s website.

Also on display: latest acquisitions of works by Georges Lacombe

The museum meanwhile continues to add relevant works to its collection, recently acquiring two works by Georges Lacombe (1868-1916): the exceptional woodcarving Breton Dancers (1893-1894) and the painting Red Pines (1894-1895). Lacombe was part of the Nabis group of artists, and was a contemporary of Van Gogh. He had frequent contact with Paul Gauguin, with whom he shared a fascination for the French region of Brittany. The artists considered the Breton nature to be unspoilt, pure and spiritual.

The painting Red Pines depicts a bay in Brittany with three slender, brightly coloured pine trees in the foreground. Lacombe exhibited this work at the Paris Salon of 1896, where it was immediately lauded for the use of colour. The painting is in excellent condition, almost in the same state as when Lacombe completed it.

In his woodcarving Breton Dancers, Lacombe depicts a traditional Breton dance. He wanted the work to appear childlike and naïve. The artwork nevertheless features masterful details, such as the hair of the old man at the bottom left. Lacombe exhibited Breton Dancers at the Société National des Beaux-Arts in 1894. It is one of the first works with which he presented himself as an artist.

Considering Lacombe’s limited oeuvre, it is remarkable that the Van Gogh Museum has been able to add these two works to the collection. Up until now, works by this versatile artist were lacking from the Dutch State Art Collection.

The two works by Lacombe are on display from today on the second floor of the permanent collection.

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