Van Gogh In The Park

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Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

After almost a month of bouncing around booming metropolises – Edinburgh to Brussels to Hamburg – these country mice needed a break.  As much as we enjoy the convenience of nearby restaurants and pubs, exposure to museums and such, we needed some quiet, some space, and some fresh air.

So for our first stop in the Netherlands, we did just that.  At the Hoge Veluwe National Park, not only did we revel in the fresh smell of pine and luxuriate in the diverse landscapes, but we were pleasantly surprised by the impressive art exhibit at the Kroller Mueller Museum that sits smack dab in the middle.

As is consistent with our expectations of culture in the Netherlands, there were also bicycles involved, in fact, there were MANY bicycles involved.  The park is known for the thousands of white bicycles at each entrance (free to use with admission) and the 42 kilometers of trails throughout.

Art Exhibit

Hoge Veluwe Landscape

Pete in Hoge Veluwe

A happy country mouse.

After a morning of cycling, we stopped at the museum with little in the way of expectations.  We had briefly read that there were a *few* important pieces of art, and a *cool* display of sculptures outdoors.

To put it gently…we were simply blown away.

What we saw was the largest collection of Van Gogh’s work (aside from the family collection) in the world.  How can I possibly describe being dazzled by two rooms completely filled with his work?

Van Gogh at Kroller Muller

Van Gogh at Kroller Muller 2

I am far from an in-depth appreciator of art, I know my way around a few paintings and artists, but have never before actually felt any depths of emotions from it.  Observing painting after painting of this genius’ work, I felt like I understood him, as if such understanding would even be possible. The deliberate brush strokes that create such life in his pictures turned to flames before my eyes – his simple landscapes indisputably bearing the fire that was actually within him.

Van Gogh at Kroller Muller 3

Besides Van Gogh, there are a few other pieces from some artists you may have heard of – Picasso, Monet, Rembrandt and some new favorites of Jan and Charley Toorop.

Picasso at Kroller Muller

No biggie.  Just an original Picasso.

To the outdoor garden next, where we were perplexed by some, but thoroughly enjoyed others.

Kroller Muller sculpture garden

This is just a small part of a massive sculpture that visitors are actually allowed to walk around on.  Kids loved it!

Kroller Muller sculpture garden - Rodin

The most celebrated sculpture in the garden – a Rodin.

And so what do you do after you have your mind blown by a few pieces of brilliant art?

You get back on your bike and ride, letting it all sink in.

Hoge Veluwe Landscape 2

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  1. That’s quite the nice find there. Like you I’m not a huge art afficionado, but Van Gogh is one of the few that I really do enjoy. Picasso just confuses me.
    Is there any other way to get to the museum other than bike?

  2. Great post, Dalene. There are so many amazing museums in Europe. I hope you get to see the statue of David in Florence. That moved me the same way I think Van Gogh moved you.

  3. What a fantastically random discovery! I love it when art takes you by surprise 🙂 Even better, you didn’t have to get in a bus full of chattering people afterward–you got to have some time to yourself, just you and the bike, to take it all in. Lovely.

    1. It sure was nice that it is a little out of the way, and we could “indulge” by just sitting and staring for as long as we like as it wasn’t too busy!

  4. Whoa, this is a larger collection than the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. Wow. That is a lot then. So awesome it’s in the middle of a park!

    1. It was an entirely private collection of one woman. She started buying Van Gogh’s stuff before he became well known, and then gave it all over to a foundation when her family was worried about going bankrupt and losing it all! She had some REALLY incredible pieces.

  5. That looks like a gorgeous day out just with the nice bike ride, and what a great surprise to see such amazing art!

    1. There is definitely camping (more on the outskirts of the park). I suppose you could also just walk the trails, but everyone is one bikes!

    1. Van Gogh is a favorite of ours too, and we were quite astounded by the many popular works of his they had there. It was a pretty spectacular day!

  6. What a great find! Van Gogh is one of my favorites. That’s so cool that you were so affected by his work. Sounds like a great day all around.

  7. Beautiful pictures! I never had the chance to visit the countryside of the Netherlands and it seems like there’s much more to this country than touristy Amsterdam. I need to go back!

    1. We had no idea what to expect in the Netherlands (other than popular Amsterdam!), and were so pleasantly surprised throughout the whole country. It is definitely worth a couple of weeks of exploration!

  8. Thanks for this post. I have never heard of this museum. Seeing art in person is so much different from seeing it in books–even works you have seen tons of times are so much better in person.

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