The Kröller Müller Museum – what took me so long? Make no mistake, this is one of the best art museums in the world. I have been wanting to visit for years, but it seemed such a hassle to get there. It’s about 80 km from Amsterdam and in the middle of a forest. Not such a trek for car owners. With public transport, it means going to Arnhem and then catching a bus. It’s possible and well worth the effort. I cannot exaggerate enough how brilliant this museum is to visit. And if you love to see beautiful art and a wonderful sculpture park, then you will be in art heaven. This is especially true if you love the work of Vincent Van Gogh. The museum has the second-largest collection of Van Gogh’s work. You already know where the largest collection of his work can be seen. Read on to find out more about this museum.
The museum was founded way back in 1938 by Helene Kröller-Müller in order to allow the public to enjoy her extensive collection of modern art. She had been actively collecting modern art at auctions across the world. What an idea to set it in the middle of a forest! The grounds are her and her husband’s estate, which is now a beautiful national park. She amassed a huge collection of his work and that of many other artists. The whole collection was gifted to the state. An act of such generosity that can now be enjoyed by every visitor to the museum. Later, an important sculpture park was added making this museum an absolute centre of important art in its many forms.
Who was Helene Kröller-Müller?
Helene Kröller-Müller was a truly remarkable woman. She was born in Germany in 1869 as Helene Emma Laura Juliane Müller. Her family were wealthy industrialists and as a young lady, she married a successful Dutch shipping magnate Anton Kröller. They shared their surnames upon tying the knot. She was a person of immense personal wealth and in 1907 she bought her first artwork. This was just the start of a lifelong quest to amass an art collection of such importance that we all owe her a great debt.
Her keen eye led her to be one of the first to recognise the importance and brilliance of Vincent Vag Gogh. She located and purchased a huge collection of his work. Over the years, she purchased 90 paintings and 185 drawings. The art of Van Gogh has a particular resonance with her. That is something millions of people can agree with nowadays. The section below details the works of other artists she collected. Interestingly, she did not collect many works by German artists.
For sure one of the major attractions here is to see so many works by Van Gogh. It is so uplifting to see them. Here you can see a version of The Potato Eaters, Cafe Terrace at Night and Sorrowing Old Man. There are so many other works by him too. Other artists’ works you can see are Redon, Mondriaan, Seurat, Braque, Picasso and so many others. All of these are perfectly exhibited on the ground floor and it is very easy to move between the different rooms and to enjoy them all.
Henk Brummer was her art mentor and adviser. He was an artist himself as well as an art collector a critic and a teacher. He was instrumental as her guide and helped her to learn more and develop her collection.
The Kröller-Müller Foundation
In the early 20th Century, she realised the growing importance for collectors to allow the public to view their art collections. This led to the creation of the Kröller-Müller Foundation in 1928. Just seven years later the couple donated their whole collection to the Dutch state. And just three years later the museum that displays their huge collection was opened on the grounds of their estate. Shortly after Helene died. She saw her dream come true and avoided seeing the full horrors of the second world war.
The Sculpture Park
In 1961 another part of Helene’s art dream arrived with the opening of the sculpture park on the grounds around the museum. I originally came to spend time indoors seeing the Van Gogh works and the other paintings. Once I had finished that and eaten a delicious lunch, I wandered out into the large outdoor areas. I am so glad I had spare time. I spent a couple of hours walking around seeing some of the most amazing sculptures and creations in the large park around the museum. There are works by Rodin, Moore, Fontana. It occupies over 75 hectares now and is a joy to see.
Top Tip – Entrance to the museum is included in the Museum Card, but you still have to pay a small fee to get into the park. It is worth it. Once you enter the park, you can use the free white bikes to get through the park in order to get to the museum. It’s a lovely ride!
Conclusion: I absolutely loved my visit to this museum and will certainly return. It is one of the best museums I have ever visited. If this museum was in Amsterdam, I would visit it every week. It is magnificent.
See the official advice on travel details and how to reach the museum.
If you liked this article see these too:
Our Lord in the Attic Amsterdam
Why it is important for children to learn Dutch:
A Q+A about getting a Dutch mortgage.