12 April 2017
A reintroduction to Van Gogh, the world’s best-known Dutch artist.
The Van Gogh Museum today welcomed the millionth multimedia guide user. The guide, an interactive tour that helps visitors discover the collection, was introduced in late November 2014 to replace the audio guide. An average of 1 in 5 visitors – 1 in 4 in peak season – uses the multimedia guide to explore the world of Van Gogh and delve deeper into his art. The majority of Van Gogh fans report seeing Vincent in a different light after taking the tour, despite thinking that they already knew all there was to know about the artist.
‘That is exactly what we hope to achieve with the guide. Visitors arrive at our museum with relatively clear-cut ideas. But they leave with new insights, which they enthusiastically share with us, as well as online’, explains Axel Rüger, Director of the Van Gogh Museum. The multimedia guide introduces museum visitors to another side of Van Gogh, as three-quarters of users proactively report. The top-three ‘new’ insights are:
- Van Gogh’s short yet productive life;
- The influence of his friends and family;
- His illness.
11 languages and three versions
With the financial support of a sponsor, the guide was translated into Korean in 2016. The interactive guided tour is therefore now available in 11 languages. The English (29%), Italian (14%) and French (10%) versions are the most popular, followed by the Dutch (9%), Spanish (9%) and Chinese (9%) versions. There are three variations of the guided tour of the permanent collection: the tour of the iconic highlights, the tour of the entire Van Gogh collection, and the family tour, designed for visitors with children.
The museum also offers special multimedia guides to accompany major exhibitions (such as Prints in Paris 1900, currently on display) and topical occasions, such as the homecoming of the two stolen Van Gogh works. In 2016, the museum collaborated with Armin van Buuren to create a unique multimedia tour allowing visitors to view Van Gogh’s work through the eyes of the five-time World’s Best DJ.
In 2015, the museum was awarded a prestigious Dutch Design Award in the Service & Systems category.
Pause to reflect on popular works
The multimedia guide examines approximately 40 works from the museum’s collection. Visitors listen to an average of 23 stories from the interactive tour. The average visit to the highlights of the museum collection with a multimedia guide lasts nearly two hours. The works most frequently examined are: Self-portrait with Straw Hat (1887), Almond Blossom (1890), The Yellow House (1888), Sunflowers (1889), The Potato Eaters (1885) and Wheatfield with Crows (1890).
‘I’d recommend getting the interactive guide as I found out so many gems I would have otherwise not known. One example was finding out why Van Gogh painted so many self-portraits (because he was so poor, he could not afford to pay for models). The artwork was so vibrant and vivid; it was so different seeing the originals up close. It was also fascinating seeing Van Gogh’s ’journey’ from his early classical style through to his final style with layers of paints in dots and dashes. A superb experience’, reports an enthusiastic visitor on Facebook.