Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

4th April 2014

Museum musings
Posted by at 7.40pm | No responses | Out and About

Van Gogh Museum

Wednesday morning’s culture was the Van Gogh Museum, boasting “The world’s largest Van Gogh collection”. The fact that the museum is spread across three floors should tell you sometih

The queue to get in was long. Fortunately, Ian and I had bought an I amsterdam City Card, which allowed us to join a slightly shorter queue – and get in for free. Then, after a quick trip through a metal detector, we found ourselves.

The museum is set out chronologically, starting with his early works as an apprentice. It’s rather fascinating to see his style evolve from the dark, realistic painting style he started out with up to the brightly-coloured impressionist paintings he is perhaps best known for.

There are also paintings by artists who influenced Van Gogh, and by artists who were themselves inspired by him. Paul Gaugin and Claude Monet are among those represented.


Truth told, we were a bit overwhelmed. We picked up a floor plan, but the museum had taken the term “floor plan” a bit too literally – all it did was show the floors, not what was on each of them. So we started at the ground floor and worked our way up.

Sunflowers, arguably his most famous work, is not in the museum at the moment. It is on loan to the National Gallery in London. If we’d known, we could have saved ourselves a trip.

There is a photograph of the painting on an otherwise empty bit of wall. Although the museum mostly seemed to discourage photography, here there was a notice encouraging visitors to take their picture with the replica painting. So here’s me posing like the worst kind of tourist in front of it.

After a quick trip to the gift shop, where I loitered amongst the T-shirts and pens for the best part of half an hour before settling on a €7.50 print of The Bedroom.

Resistance Museum

After lunch, we headed to the Dutch Resistance Museum – another attraction included in our City Card. The Netherlands was occupied by Germany for five years, only being liberated on VE Day. The museum is dedicated to documenting life under occupation.

Exhibits show the realities of everyday life under that period. At first the Nazis attempted to treat the Dutch as near-equals, part of a “brotherhood of nations”. A lot of Dutch people, naturally, refused to go along with this and a resistance movement quickly grew.

The museum is full of relics and eyewitness accounts of life during that time. Highlights include: the tram strike which occurred in Amsterdam as a protest against the persecution of the Jewish people; the secret printing presses which produced numerous underground newspapers; and finally, the winter of hardship in 1945, as fuel supplies dwindled, food ran out and railway workers went on strike.

Britain was never occupied, and I think, because of that, our perspective on World War II is very different to that of our European neighbours. Life under occupation was difficult, and it was intriguing to see how the Dutch people coped with it.

Not that life before the war was particularly brilliant, either. As one exhibit in the museum reminded us, in the 1930s the Netherlands was struggling with the worldwide economic crisis and grinding poverty:-

Signs of Poverty

Thousands of people living below the poverty line? People on the dole being regarded with disdain? Thank God nothing like that could ever happen in Britain.

The Resistance Museum isn’t particularly big, and you can cover all of it in an afternoon. If you’re in Amsterdam, I definitely recommend it.


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