History of the collection

The Van Gogh Museum first opened its doors in 1973. The building, designed by Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld, houses the world's largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh: some 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 750 letters, as well as the artist's own collection of Japanese prints.





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The collection originally belonged to Theo van Gogh (1857-1891), Vincent's younger brother. Following Theo's death, it passed to his widow, Johanna van Gogh-Bonger (1862-1925). Although a number of works were sold, she retained a major group, representing all phases of Van Gogh's oeuvre. On her death in 1925, her son, Vincent Willem van Gogh (1890-1978), inherited the collection. In 1962, on the initiative of the Dutch state, he transferred the works to the Vincent van Gogh Foundation. They are now on permanent loan to the Van Gogh Museum and form the nucleus of its collection. The museum also has a large collection of works by other 19th-century artists: contemporaries and friends of Van Gogh's - among them Paul Gauguin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec - as well as a number of older artists whom he admired, such as Léon Lhermitte and Jean-François Millet. A great many of these works were collected by the Van Gogh brothers. Their original collection has been complemented through acquisitions and long-term loans from other institutions.

Financing new acquisitions

The Van Gogh Museum receives a subsidy from the government which goes towards the running costs of the museum. In addition, the museum derives income from ticket sales and the museum store. All profits from the museum store and online shop are spent on acquiring new works of art for the permanent collection. For the expansion of its collection, the museum depends greatly on other sources of income, such as patronage and sponsoring. In the past year, the museum was able to acquire several exceptional works of art with the financial support of the Vincent van Gogh Foundation, the Prince Bernhard Fund, the Rembrandt Association and the National Art Collection Fund. Moreover, since 1998 the Van Gogh Museum (along with the Rijksmuseum, the Kröller Müller Museum, and the Mauritshuis) has been a beneficiary of the BankGiro Lottery. Annually the Van Gogh Museum receives a substantial sum from the proceeds of the BankGiro Lottery earmarked for acquisitions. This has enabled the museum to purchase several masterpieces, such as Van Dongen's Portrait of Guus Preitinger and two paintings by Monet from his Dutch period.

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