2021 will enter the history books as the second year to be overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic. In compliance with the guidelines introduced by the Dutch government, the Van Gogh Museum was closed for 24 weeks of the year. Even so, with remarkable resilience and perseverance, the museum made the year as special as we could.
Reopening on 5 June
‘Culture is the strongest foundation, the city fights back with creativity, inspiration and connection’. Amsterdam City Poet Gershwin Bonevacia wrote this in his poem What we need, which he recited at the celebratory reopening of the museum on 5 June.
Once the museum was able to reopen to the public, we could finally welcome visitors to the exhibition Here to Stay: A decade of remarkable acquisitions and their stories. Prior to the opening – while the museum was closed – visitors were able to view an online preview of a selection of highlights from the exhibition.
Exhibition The Potato Eaters
The exhibition The Potato Eaters: Mistake or Masterpiece?, an exhibition focusing on the renowned painting The Potato Eaters opened in the autumn.
The exhibition challenged visitors to form their own opinion about what Van Gogh considered to be his best painting to date. The Potato Eaters Studio was a special addition to the exhibition: a scale reconstruction of the interior of the peasant’s dwelling where Van Gogh prepared his painting. The Studio hosted painting workshops and visitors could photograph themselves in the dwelling.
Online museum activities
During the months that the museum was closed, there was additional focus on ensuring the online visibility of Vincent van Gogh, the museum collection and the museum’s (online) activities.
In 2021, the museum reached the milestone of 2 million Instagram followers, and the redesigned website received a number of awards. An online visit has proven to offer Dutch and international visitors an educational or relaxing experience, and sharing valuable museum and cultural heritage can offer solace in challenging times.
The Van Gogh Museum was able to realise notable financial savings in 2021. The consolidated costs were approximately € 5 m lower than in 2020.
Exhibition expenses were relatively low in 2021, and more expensive exhibitions were postponed until 2022. The museum received generous support from the State during the pandemic, for which it is highly grateful.
Thanks to this support and in light of the savings, the museum realised a positive operating result of € 5.9 m in 2021 (compared to a € 1.5 m negative operating result in 2020). Part of this positive result has been apportioned to the general reserve, while a large part will be used for necessary activities and projects that had to be delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.