1.6 million visitors: The Van Gogh Museum ends 2011 very successfully

2 January 2012

With 1.6 million visitors in 2011, Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum enjoyed one of the best-visited years in its history.

The Van Gogh Museum received 1.600.300 visitors in the past year. This number is close to the record of 1.675.000 in 2006 and represents a substantial increase with respect to 2010: 10.7 % more people came to the museum in 2011. The milestone of 1 million visitors was reached already in August, earlier than expected. The Van Gogh Museum is the best-visited museum in the Netherlands.

Interest in the museum via social media grew explosively. The number of fans on the Van Gogh Museum’s Facebook page increased by 16,000 to over 27,000 and Twitter experienced an increase of 12,000 to a total of more than 21,000 followers. For both media this represents an increase of more than 60%.

2011 was an eventful year in many other respects with splendid acquisitions and exhibitions, the announcement of an extensive renovation and a coinciding exhibition of the museum’s works to be held in the Hermitage Amsterdam, and a new high-profile and controversial biography of Van Gogh.

New acquisitions
Major new acquisitions in 2011 include two works by Camille Pissarro (1831-1903): the painting Haymaking, Éragny (1887) and the gouache Cowgirl in the morning sun (1887). Both pieces are important examples of pointillism. Moreover, The mumps (1893), a painting by Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940) was bought in October. This is quite exceptional as paintings from the height of Vuillard’s career rarely come onto the art market and it constitutes a fine supplement to the works by this artist already owned by the museum.

The well-attended extensive survey exhibition Picasso in Paris, 1900-1907 was on view in the spring. A considerable number of works from Picasso’s early Paris period were shown in the Netherlands for the first time. Van Gogh in Antwerp and Paris, which opened in the summer, was widely acclaimed. The same holds true for Snapshot: Painters and photography,1888-1915 which explored the influence of the advent of photography on artists around 1900, and which was held in the autumn.

Renovation: 70 masterpieces in the Hermitage Amsterdam
In June the Van Gogh Museum announced that it would  undergo essential renovations starting in September 2012. As a consequence, a substantial number of important works of art will be presented in the Hermitage in Amsterdam. The Van Gogh Museum will be adapted to accommodate the steadily growing number of visitors. It will reopen in 2013 with a large jubilee exhibition on the life, work and working method of Van Gogh entitled Van Gogh at Work marking the museum’s 40th anniversary

A new biography of Vincent van Gogh written by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith appeared in October. It adds significantly to our knowledge of Van Gogh’s life and thinking and is considered a valuable contribution by the Van Gogh Museum. The authors also give a new account of the artist’s cause of death: they posit that it was due to manslaughter rather than to suicide, as has been assumed to date. The experts of the Van Gogh Museum, however, find it premature to dismiss suicide as the official cause of death at this time.

Coming in 2012
In February the museum will mount a presentation of important works from its collection of prints entitled Beauty in abundance. It will also launch the Museum Square Bus, which will enable schools to let their pupils visit safely and free of charge the three museums on Museum Square. The large exhibition Dreams of Nature: Symbolism from Van Gogh to Kandinsky will open at the end of February. As of the end of September a spectacular survey of masterpieces from the permanent collection will grace the Hermitage Amsterdam for the duration of the renovation of the Van Gogh Museum.

Van Gogh Museum, Photo: Michiel van Nieuwkerk

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