A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
We’re a bit spoilt here in the Netherlands when it comes to art. Home to famous names like van Gogh and Vermeer, it seems that every single art gallery is packed with masterpiece after masterpiece. Even our humble little Leiden has the honour of being the birthplace of Rembrandt. If you’ve done the Amsterdam galleries (probably on your first weekend in the Netherlands, right?), checked out the Mauritshuis in the Hague, and have still not had your artistic appetite sated, then fear not, for one of the Netherlands hidden gems, the Kröller-Müller Museum, awaits!
The museum hosts the collection of Helene Kröller and Anton Müller, turn-of-the-20th-century art enthusiasts who turned out to have quite the eye for genius. They were some of the earliest collectors of van Gogh, and have been credited with raising his profile from unrecognised creative to celebrated master. The collection is on display, separated into two sections: early sketches and paintings of rural Dutch life, and paintings from van Gogh’s time in France, where his characteristic style begins to form. That famous painting of a café under a starry sky that you find on so many mugs and and coasters? The original is right here at the Kröller-Müller Museum.
The museum building holds a range of other modern art, ranging from Toorop to Picasso, Seurat to Mondrian. In only an hour or so wander through the museum you can see a host of the most celebrated paintings in the art world. It is quite a unique experience to unexpectedly come face-to-face with one of your favourite paintings on a Sunday afternoon, after years of admiring it in books. Who knew these treasures were all here?!
Ah, but once you’ve had a look at the paintings, then comes the really fun part: a long, leisurely walk through the museum park, where diverse sculptures lurk between towering trees and hilly banks. Highlights include a massive staircase that stretches up impossibly high among the treetops, and tent-like structures which look like a medieval encampment. There is a lot to see here, so take your time and see what you can find.
If you have a museum card, then good for you! You’ll get in free. If not, then you can get a student discount on the entry to the museum and sculpture park entry, meaning that you only pay around 4 euros. Bargain. If you want to go through the area surrounding the museum, then you will have to pay around an additional 8 euros. There is a restaurant, with the usual sandwiches, soups and cakes. The bread (and some of the other ingredients) is organic, and very tasty too!
Have I whetted your appetite for an artsy day out? Then here comes the bad news: how to get there. The museum is situated in a gorgeous part of the country, Hoge Veluwe National Park, which is well worth a visit for its own sake (here be hills…) But getting there from Leiden requires a couple of trains and a couple of buses, totalling around 2 hours travel each way. Not really suitable for a quick mooch around a gallery, but perfect for a whole day out.