Meeting with Van Gogh for real

Notes from the Netherlands. Part 2

After yarn adventure and magic dinner with Lera (you can read about it in Part 1 of my Notes from the Netherlands HERE), my next stop in Amsterdam was Van Gogh Museum. I was warned it can take some time to stay in line to purchase the tickets, so I better booked mine in advance on Musement with “skipping the line option”. But to be honest I didn’t understand what it was about, as I was not allowed to enter museum with printed ticket and had to exchange it for a normal one (for free), and still to stay in line.
Vincent van Gogh. Starry Night. Digital art by Guy Whitby (WBK)
Vincent van Gogh Starry Night. credit: Guy Whitby (WBK)

If you are in Amsterdam and want to visit Van Gogh Museum the best time to do it is in the morning. I came there at 9am (just after the museum opened) and there were already lots of people, so I believe in busy hours the museum is totally overcrowded. And it’s a little bit annoying because you are not free to see what you want and you need to stay in the line very slowly moving from one paining to another.

View from Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
A view from Van Gogh Museum
Vincent Van Gogh is one of my favourite artists. I studied his life and art some years ago, I was reading his letters, but of course I cannot say I know everything about him. And I am definitely not an expert. I was lucky to see some of his works in Vienna but museum in Amsterdam is something totally different. It is a concentration of enormous creative energy of one person. I was very impressed by his self-portraits which are exhibited in one separate place. It is not allowed to take pictures in the museum, and this is for good, because pictures (in general and I am not even talking about the mobile shots) can never transfer the feeling. Van Gogh’s self-portraits are unbelievable.
Van Gogh, Self-portrait, 1887
Vincent van Gogh. Self-portrait. 1887. Source:
The museum tells Van Gogh’s story from the very early steps of his creative life till death. I was a little bit upset that The Starry Night is not there (I was told it is kept in Museum of Modern Art in New York and never travels to the Netherlands), but you have a chance to see famous Sunflowers and many-many other fabulous paintings.
Van Gogh, Sunflowers 1889, Amsterdam
Vincent van Gogh. Sunflowers, 1889. Source:

By the way the collage inspired by the Starry Night you see in the beginning of this post is made by an Australian artist Guy Whitby, aka WorkByKnight (WBK). And is a part of his series of prints called “The Granny Square”. I wonder if it is too difficult to make the same blanket of granny squares for real. It would be a great project to reduce yarn stash. But it is also true you need an excellent eye for colours to create something like this. Guy Whitby has some more fantastic prints in his “Granny Squares” series inspired by art-works of other painters. So be sure to check them HERE, and you can also follow Guy on Facebook.

I was also very impressed by the letters. There are a few spots in the museum where you can listen to them. And usually they accompany real paper letters with the sketches. When you listen to them you get an even deeper understanding of Van Gogh’s personality. Incredible! By the way a book with the collection of his letters is available for purchase in the museum’s shop.
A letter with a sketch, Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
Letter From Vincent van Gogh to Willemien van Gogh with sketches of Reminiscence of Garden at Etten and Woman Reading a Novel, 1888. Source:
There are several shops in the museum and I walked through all of them. And they left a kind of hard feeling… The last thing I saw at the exhibition was the picture of Van Gogh’s grave and I listened to the letter of his brother Theo telling about his death and the funeral… It makes a very strong impression, and the next thing you see when you walk out is enormous amount of gifts in a gift shop made with motifs of Van Gogh’s paintings. Maybe T-shirts, umbrellas, magnets are ok. …But soft bears made from a fabric with his prints… I don’t know. Art is cruel. Was Van Gogh a successful painter during his life? No. Were his paintings sold well and gave him lots of money? No. And yes, maybe this helped his genius to grow, as one of art conceptions says you cannot create any decent art if you haven’t suffered enough in your life… But today when I look at all those “gifts” with sometimes not very reasonable price, it makes me feel sad.

Oh yes, and the books. Some of them are really great! But look at this colouring one. Colouring books are very hot today, and mandalas are a huge success in design. So someone thought it is a good idea to combine elements of Van Gogh’s works into colouring mandalas. Does it have an educative effect? Will people learn more about unique art of Van Gogh while colouring this book? Will they love his work? Or is it just a trend and another way to earn money? I don’t know…
Colouring Mandalas, Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
Well… That was my trip to Amsterdam. Not very much of sightseeing. Just relaxed walks along the channels in the company of my beautiful dear friend.

Next time I will tell you something about Groningen and Scheepjes Bloggers Day (HERE). Keep in touch!

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  1. thanks for the nice story....You probably know the saying, ones death is the other ones bread (that's a litteral translation from our dutch saying) and i guess you see this in lot's of museums and historcal sites or medieval castles, at the end there's always a souvenir shop, all very commercial set. I can totally understand and agree with you there.
    I'm very impressed with the work from the other artist.....amazing what he can do with granny squares, the moment i saw this pictures in your post i thought OMG those are granny squares, i was so amazed. It would sure be a great way to work away yarn stash, but as you also mentioned, you do need indeed an excellent eye for colors.
    the challenge is up to you ;-)

  2. Oh what an amazing experience for you! I would love to go to this museum. Thanks for sharing your experience with us! Have a great weekend! --Rita Z.

  3. The end of the day is also a good time to visit this museum.

    1. Yes, you are probably right! there should be not so many people in the museum in the evening...


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