In the summer of 2012 Family Kiwidutch expanded on the plan we had made a year earlier: to sometimes be tourists in our own country and to see more famous (and less famous sights) within the Netherlands.
Amazingly one place we had never yet visited but has been on our “to do” list for a while is the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. First of course I need to teach you how to pronounce “Van Gogh” correctly, which I debated the best and easiest way to do, I therefore looked on the internet and found a piece on a BBC website that said it perfectly in my opinion (link to article below) so here is their text:
“Most Dutch people pronounce his surname along the lines of vun KHOKH (-v as in vet, -u as in bun, -kh as in Scottish loch) or fun KHOKH (-f as in fit, -u as in bun, -kh as in Scottish loch).”
One of the things I would recommend for anyone visiting any popular tourist attraction anywhere in the world is to be there when the doors open, the first hour is usually the quietest and it’s the best way to avoid the (biggest) queues.
My second piece of advice, where possible (as it is in this instance) is to book your tickets on-line. This will mean the fast-track entry line instead of the regular one.
We arrived early to find that at least thirty other people had the same idea about arriving early, but most of them hadn’t booked on-line so we were still in the far shorter lane at the ticket area.
Sadly for my blog all photography is prohibited inside the gallery area, so I only have photographs of the outside of the building, the gift shop area and of postcards I bought afterwards in the gift shop.
The museum contains the largest collection of painting by Van Gogh in the world, and includes well known pieces for example: “A Pair of Leather Clogs, 1888 “, “Portrait of Theo van Gogh, 1887” “Self-Portrait with Felt Hat, 1888” “Sunflowers, 1889”, “The bedroom, 1888”, “The Langlois Bridge, 1888”, “Wheatfield with Crows, 1890” and the “The potato eaters, 1885” to name just a few.
Much to the consternation of Little Mr and Kiwi Daughter, Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” is not in the Amsterdam collection, it is instead located in The Museum of Modern Art in New York as part of their permanent collection. The painting did come back to the Netherlands some years ago for a special anniversary exhibition but we missed it at the time, so maybe if we are ever in New York one day, who knows…
It’s probably not surprising that Dutch children study Van Gogh in school and since Little Mr. had recently had this as a topic he was especially proud to tell us all about the paintings he recognised and what he had learnt as we toured the gallery levels.
The gallery has to be one of the most successful trips we have made to an art museum to date with our children, they knew enough from their school studies to appreciate the life of the artist behind the works and were fascinated by the transition of seeing pictures of painting in books to seeing the real thing on the walls.
One reoccurring comment was that often the children imagined the works to have been far bigger (or smaller) than they really were, so I explained that that’s a common problem because even when books give the measurements of a painting it’s hard to imagine the scale in real life.
We had an excellent time at the Van Gogh Museum, if you go with children who are old enough to understand, then a short explanation about Van Gogh’s life will go a long way to making this an interesting trip for your kids too, for me the turbulence of Vincent’s life is more than illustrated in the brush strokes on the canvases… it makes for an emotional visit, you can feel what Vincent was trying to say. It’s just such a deep shame tat he was so little understood in his own lifetime.