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What to See Inside the Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum is like ground zero for all things Van Gogh! They have the biggest collection of his paintings anywhere – a treasure trove of his work! You can see everything from his early self-portraits to his super colorful landscapes that make you feel right in the scene. The museum's all set up to help you learn more about Van Gogh, with audio guides and cool exhibits explaining his story and art. So, if you're a Van Gogh fan (or just curious!), this museum is worth checking out.

What's inside the Van Gogh Museum?

inside van gogh museum

The Van Gogh Museum is basically Disneyland for Van Gogh fans or anyone who digs his art! This museum has the biggest collection of his stuff anywhere – over 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and even 700 letters! 

You can walk through his artistic journey, from his early sketches to his famous masterpieces like Sunflowers and The Potato Eaters. The museum also does a great job of helping you understand Van Gogh the person. They've got exhibits explaining his ideas and inspirations, and you can even see some of his letters. There are always special exhibits featuring Van Gogh's work from other museums or art by his contemporaries. They even have workshops where you can try your hand at painting like Van Gogh himself!

Highlights inside Van Gogh Museum

The Rietveld building houses the permanent collections of Vincent Van Gogh, while the Kurokawa wing contains the artist’s paintings, drawings, and letters. Some of the permanent exhibit’s earliest displays date back to 1882. Van Gogh was inspired by Paul Gauguin’s choice of colors and shared his love for Japanese prints and earthy tones with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The Van Gogh Museum allows visitors to look at and analyze his works, along with his contemporaries.

The Potato Eaters at the Van Gogh Museum

The Potato Eaters (1885)

This painting shows a bunch of peasants hunched over a table, eating potatoes for dinner. The mood is dark and gloomy, and the people look worn out. Van Gogh wanted to show the tough life of farmers back then – these folks had to work hard just to put food on the table, even if it wasn't the most exciting meal.

Sunflowers at the Van Gogh Museum

Sunflowers (1889)

Van Gogh depicted sunflowers on five major canvasses. These paintings are all about a sense of freshness and welcoming charm. Interestingly, he used only three shades of yellow and nothing else. Fun fact: some of his earlier sunflower paintings show the flowers lying on the ground, while the later versions show them standing tall in a vase.

Almond Blossom at the Van Gogh Museum

Almond Blossom (1890)

One of Van Gogh's most famous drawings is Almond Blossom. These almond tree branches full of blossoms against a bright blue sky symbolize spring coming around, a time of new beginnings. Fun fact: Van Gogh got the idea for this drawing from Japanese woodblock prints!

Van Gogh's Self-Portrait with Grey-Felt Hat at the Van Gogh Museum

Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat (1887)

In 1887, Van Gogh painted a self-portrait using short strokes in bright red, yellow, and green with a grey felt hat. Back then, he lived in Paris, and this was his way of painting himself as a well-presented modern man.

Van Gogh's Self-Portrait as a Painter at the Van Gogh Museum

Self-Portrait as a Painter (1888)

Van Gogh painted himself holding paintbrushes and a palette, in front of an easel. He used bright, complementary colors. He painted this around 1887 because he was experimenting with a new, modern style of painting where the colors weren't all blended smoothly.

The Yellow House at the Van Gogh Museum

The Yellow House (1888)

This painting shows a bright yellow house with green shutters right next to a couple of cafes, all bathed in that amazing blue sky Van Gogh loved so much. He painted this in 1888 in Arles, France. This yellow house was where he lived – he even invited his friends to stay with him there!

The Bedroom at the Van Gogh Museum

The Bedroom (1888)

Van Gogh painted his bedroom in Arles, France, in 1888. He included all his simple furniture: just his bed, table, and a few chairs, and his artwork. Fun fact: he deliberately faulted the corners of the room to showcase typical shadows commonly found in Japanese prints.

The Sower at the Van Gogh Museum

The Sower (1888)

Van Gogh was really into painting farmers sowing seeds and making over 30 drawings. This one he did in 1888 is a bit different; it's more opulent and simple. The sun looks like a giant halo, and the background colors fade out in a cool way, making the sower seem almost saint-like as he walks through the field.

head of a skeleton with a burning cigarette at the van gogh museum

Head of a Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette (1886)

This painting by Van Gogh was made back in his early days (1886) when he was still in art school at Antwerp. This painting shows he knew his way around human anatomy. Drawing skeletons was a regular assignment, but not painting them. This must have been made in between classes or after school.

A crab on its back at the van gogh musuem

A Crab on its Back (1887)

Van Gogh was inspired by crabs in Japanese woodblock prints, which he and his brother Theo collected. Instead of a realistic approach, he went all out with bright red against a green background, experimenting with Eugène Delacroix's 'laws of color', which claimed that colors like green and red, when paired together, had a greater impact.

self-portrait with pipe and straw hat at the van gogh museum

Self-Portrait with Pipe and Straw Hat (1887)

This sketch is an example of Van Gogh's progress in Paris. The bright summery colors and loose brushstrokes are inspired by the Impressionists. The background and his clothes are large, outlined areas of color, but he paid more attention to his face and beard. Since models were expensive, he just looked in the mirror and painted himself!

portrait of marcelle roulin at the van gogh museum

Portrait of Marcelle Roulin (1888)

This is Marcelle, the youngest daughter of Joseph Roulin, the postman who sent Van Gogh's paintings all the way from Arles to Paris. Although Van Gogh painted the whole Roulin family, Marcelle was his favorite – he painted her three portraits by herself and two more with her mother.

Temporary exhibits

Since 2014, the museum has hosted temporary exhibitions showcasing limited, select works by Vincent and artists inspired by him, including Francis Bacon, Edvard Munch, and more.

Van Gogh Museum Exhibits

Landscapes of Sentiment

Dates: February 7 - June 23

This exhibit features works by Emile Bernard, Maxime Maufra, Félix Vallotton, Paul Signac, Charles Guilloux, Odilon Redon, and Ker-Xavier Roussel, using prints, like etchings and woodcuts, to create landscapes. The artists used them to express their deepest feelings, letting go of the 'modern, materialistic' thing and focusing on the emotional and spiritual. They also used different techniques to add more meaning to their work.

Van Gogh Museum Exhibits

Matthew Wong | Vincent Van Gogh: Painting as a Last Resort

Dates: March 1 - September 1

This exhibit shines a light on Matthew Wong, a Chinese-Canadian artist inspired by Van Gogh. They painted colorful, wild landscapes that take you to another world. Both Van Gogh and Wong struggled with mental health, and you can see some of those emotions poured into their art. This exhibit is your chance to see how these two artists, even from different backgrounds and times, connected through their struggles and their love of painting.




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Van Gogh Museum visitor tips

  • Start from the ground floor: The museum has arranged Van Gogh’s artworks in chronological order, with his early works on the ground floor and his later years on the upper levels, so make sure to start your viewing journey from the ground. 
  • Reach early: It is best to reach early in the morning, right after the office traffic rush for comparatively lesser crowds. You can also visit around late afternoons for a quieter museum visit.
  • No flash photography: The Van Gogh Museum does not permit flash photography or tripods. You cannot take pictures of the exhibits or touch any of the artworks. Please follow these guidelines.
  • Book guided tours: If you want to delve deeper into Vincent Van Gogh’s life and learn how it shaped his artworks, book a guided tour. An experienced tour guide will give you more context as you walk through the Dutch master’s paintings.
  • Take out sufficient time for the visit: We recommend you spend at least 2 to 3 hours exploring all of Van Gogh’s works at the museum.

Frequently Asked Questions about what’s inside Van Gogh Museum

Is there a section dedicated to the techniques and materials Van Gogh used in his paintings?

The Van Gogh Museum does not display the artist’s materials. However, you can learn about his techniques, including the use of bright colors and short brush strokes, on a guided tour with an English-speaking guide. This tour will also cover the history and influences of his paintings, and how Van Gogh brought a new era into the world of art.

Does the museum display any of Van Gogh's drawings, letters, or other personal items?

Yes. Apart from Van Gogh’s most famous paintings, the museum also displays some of his earliest sketches, his drawings from Paris and the south of France, his personal letters, and his annotations for his artwork.

Is the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam worth visiting?

Yes, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam hosts a large collection of the Dutch master’s works. It also houses other artworks by his contemporaries and provides a comprehensive view of the Dutch Golden Era. If you love art, you must visit the Van Gogh Museum. 

Can you click pictures at the Van Gogh Museum?

Yes, you can click pictures near the entrance and along the ‘selfie walls’. However, you are not allowed to click pictures of the artworks and museum exhibits. 

Who designed the Van Gogh Museum?

The Van Gogh Museum was built by the Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld and opened its doors to the public on June 2, 1973. In the late 1990s, the museum underwent a major renovation and expansion project led by the Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. The museum has dedicated blocks in their name to honor them for their contribution. 

When was the Van Gogh Museum built?

The Van Gogh Museum was built by the Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld and was opened to the public on June 2, 1973. 

Where is the Van Gogh Museum located?

The Van Gogh Museum is situated on Museumplein 6, 1071 DJ Amsterdam in the Netherlands. You can get to the museum by bus, tram, metro, or train. How to get to the Van Gogh Museum.