Amsterdam Must-See: Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam contains the largest collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) in the world.1
It also features a collection — as well as special exhibitions — of other 19th-century art, including works by Van Gogh’s friends and contemporaries. This way you see his life and work in context — a helpful and memorable way to enjoy his art.
This must-see museum is well laid out, and is a joy to visit. (We know, since we come here on a regular basis.)
This is the second most-visited museum in Amsterdam (the nearby Rijksmuseum is in first place), so it pays to buy your tickets ahead of time.
There are three lines at the entrance:
- Blue ‘Skip the Line’ Lane: Pre-booked tickets for a specific date and time — The fastest way to get into the museum.
- Yellow ‘Voucher’ Lane: Pre-booked tickets with an open date — Busier than the blue lane
- Box Office: For those who still need to buy a ticket. Be prepared for long queues: 1 – 2+ hours in off-season
Van Gogh Museum: Opening Hours, Busiest Days, and Busiest Times
- Busiest days: Saturdays and Sundays.
- Busiest times: Every day between 11 am and 3 pm.
The museum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, Fridays until 10 pm — with the following exceptions:
- December 25 – December 31, 2016: 9 am to 7 pm, Fridays until 10 pm, Saturday 31 December: 9 am to 7 pm
- January 1, 2017: 11 am to 7 pm
- January 2 – 8, 2017: 9 am to 7 pm, Friday until 10 pm, Saturday until 9 pm
- March 27 – July 13, 2017: 9 am to 6 pm, Fridays until 10 pm
- July 14 – September 2, 2017: 9 am to 7 pm, Fridays until 10 pm, Saturdays until 9 pm
- September 4 – November 5, 2017: 9 am to 6 pm, Fridays until 10 pm
- December 25, 1017 – January 7, 2018: 9 am to 6 pm, Fridays until 10 pm. New Year’s Day (1 January 2018): open from 11 am
- Last admission is 30 minutes before closing time
- An average visit lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Many people spend additional time browsing the museum’s extensive shop.
Tip: Arrive Early, or Late
Access to the museum is measured so as not to overfill its rooms with visitors.
If you want to make sure you can visit the museum we strongly advice you to either arrive early in the morning (at the latest by 8:00 am — the museum open at 9:00 am), and/or buy your tickets online ahead of time.
The lines — which can be quite long — do move quickly, but sometimes the doors are closed for a while when the museum is at full capacity.
This is true regardless of whether you still need to buy a ticket, or have bought a ticket online.
The wait can at times be as long as 30 minutes or more. But people who have bought (so-called ‘skip-the-line’) tickets online ahead of time will nearly always have a much shorter line.
And yes, the museum is worth the wait!
How to get to the Van Gogh Museum
The Van Gogh Museum is on Museumplein in Amsterdam, between the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum.
The museum entrance is at Museumplein 6.2
View Van Gogh Museum in a larger map
Trams 2, 3, 5 and 12, 16 and 24 have stops near the museum, as do buses 145, 170 and 172.
An an indication: By tram (5) or bus (170 or 172) from Central Station to the stop near the museum the trip takes about 20 minutes.
Note: The trams are operated by GVB; the buses are not. This means that holders of the I amsterdam City Card can travel here free of charge by tram, but not by bus. (This pass also provides free entrance to the museum.)3
If you prefer to avoid the hustle and bustle of public transport, take an electric taxi instead.
The Van Gogh Museum offers excellent accessibility for visitors using a wheelchair or walking aid.
The museum has parking space as well as a drop off/pick up area.
There is a priority entrance, bypassing the queues. A companion will not have to purchase a ticket.4
Properly harnessed guide dogs are welcome.
Large print guides to the exhibit are available.
Children from the age of 6 will thoroughly enjoy the experience.
Once inside, pick up a family guide at the multimedia desk.
Available in Dutch and English, it is tailored to children between 6 and 12 years of age.
Children can also participate in a treasure hunt. Pick up a Treasure Hunt Sheet at the Information Desk. Children who return the sheet will receive a small gift.
Amsterdam is a small and compact city with an excellent, finely-mazed public transport system. That means you don’t necessarily have to find a hotel close to the museum.
That said, Museumplein is also home to the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum — and the world-famous Concertgebouw is stone’s throw away. It is close to Vondelpark and to Amsterdam’s city center.
The collection is displayed thematically rather than chronologically: for instance, Van Gogh’s rural scenes, the artists among his friends such as Paul Gauguin, Émile Bernard and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, his painting techniques, and his mental decline.
This allows visitors to see what inspired the painter, and which artists in turn were inspired by him.
The museum, designed by architect Gerrit Rietveld and opened in 1973. In 1999 an exhibition wing by the Japanese modernist architect Kisho Kurokawa was added, the design and placement of which many Amsterdammers didn’t like. The abstract design means that a tall, half moon wall of ‘concrete’ is facing the grass of museumplein.
As for us, we think Van Gogh himself would not have been amused, to say the least. Youre mileage may differ, as they say.
Number of Visitors
The Van Gogh museum is one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions. In 2016, 2.1. million people passed through its doors — a historical record.5
About 80% of the museum’s visitors come from outside the Netherlands.
By the way, the nearby Rijksmuseum — the most visited museum in the Netherlands — in 2016 drew just 100.000 more visitors than the Van Gogh.
Aside from the permanent collection, the museum also has special exhibitions focusing on various aspects of Van Gogh’s life and work.
Often these exhibitions feature works by his contemporaries — showing, for instance, how the painter was influenced by people, places and events.
The upcoming show is a good example:
Upcoming Exhibition: Van Gogh, Rousseau, Corot: In the Forest — July 7, 2017 to September 10, 2017
Like many painters Van Gogh enjoyed working en plein air — outdoors, particularly in nature.
He frequently joined Théodore Rousseau, Camille Corot, and others on outings to the Forest of Fontainebleau, where they painted the unspoiled landscape.
Van Gogh loves trees and foliage, and the interplay of light and shadows in the woodlands. In describing how he uses a perspective frame in painting his ‘Girl in a Wood,’ he wrote to his brother Theo that he sought to depict the forest in such a way ‘that one can breathe and wander about in it — and smell the woods’.
In this summer presentation, Van Gogh’s paintings will be shown alongside those of Rousseau, Corot and other artists from the collection of the Van Gogh Museum and The Mesdag Collection.
The Van Gogh Museum’s focus in 2017 will be on France and, in particular, Paris. The museum will host a range of activities and events throughout this theme year including exhibitions, lectures and workshops.
Both th Prints in Paris 1900 exhibition and the In The Forest exhibition are part of that theme.
Such temporary shows — which are always well curated — provide much insight into Van Gogh and the time and environment in which he lived.
This is one reason why we, the publishers of DutchAmsterdam visit the museum two or three times a year — more whenever we have the opportunity.
Many tourists likewise enjoy visiting more than once.
Virtual Van Gogh Museum
If you can’t visit the museum in person but would like to see its collection anyway, visit Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum via Google’s Art Project.
You’ll be able to ‘walk’ through the museum, zoom in on art objects, and get extra information about them.
Additional Practical Information
P.O. Box 75366
1070 AJ Amsterdam
T +31 (0)20 570 5200
F +31 (0)20 570 5222
Luggage / Cloakroam
Jackets and handbags are allowed in the museum, but rucksacks, umbrellas and larger backpacks must be placed in the cloakroom.
Note: They’re not referring to luggage-sized bags and packs.
There are no lockers at the museum, so do not bring your luggage! Leave it in your hotel, or at the luggage storage facility inside Amsterdam Central Station.
Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the museum, but please limit the use of your mobile phone.
Photos / Videos
You cannot take photos and/or record videos within the museum, except in designated areas such as the ‘selfie wall.’
That said, journalists, bloggers and vloggers who wish to film or take photographs may request a press visit.
In The News
Van Gogh Museum most admired art gallery in Europe.
Erasmus University in August 2017 published a large-scale study of the reputation of the 18 most famous art museums around the world. European respondents placed the Van Gogh Museum first in the reputation ranking, ahead of the Louvre in Paris and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
The Louvre occupied first place globally, while the Van Gogh Museum was ranked second worldwide and the Rijksmuseum third.
Home at last: after 14 years the stolen Van Gogh paintings are back in the museum.
After an absence of 14 years, the two paintings by Van Gogh that were feared lost are again on display in the Van Gogh Museum. The works were stolen from the collection in 2002 by thieves who needed only a few minutes for the entire operation. The theft was a major blow to the art world.
Last September, a team from the Italian Guardia di Finanza stumbled upon the two paintings during a house search in the vicinity of Naples. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the Italian and Dutch authorities, the works could be released relatively soon and begin their journey back to the Netherlands. Starting today, they have resumed their place in the museum’s collection and are on display in the state in which they were found, without their frames.
– Source: Van Gogh Museum, Press Release
How do the Dutch pronounce ‘Vincent van Gogh’?
The Dutch language isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. No problem. Most of us speak English. But if you want to impress us by trying to pronounce Van Gogh’s name in Dutch, have a try:
On a Personal Note
I first visited the Van Gogh Museum in 1977, and I remember it like it was yesterday.
At the time I worked at a youth hostel in the center of Amsterdam, and I wondered why so many of our hippie guests — on their way to or from India — seemingly felt ‘compelled’ to see the museum.
That visit ignited my interest in impressionist and post-impressionist paintings — which turned into a lifelong love affair, so to speak.
To this day my wife and I both visit the museum on a regular basis — to marvel again and again at Van Gogh’s wonderful paintings, to ponder his life story, and to learn more about his place among the artists of his time.
It never gets boring — for the same reason you can enjoy your favorite songs, music, poems and movies over and over.
At DutchAmsterdam we have heard similar comments from many tourists who have visited both the city and the museum multiple times.
They return not just for the special, temporary exhibitions, but also to reacquaint themselves — face to face — with their favorite paintings.
By the way, if you happen to see me there, say “Hi!” I’ll buy you a coffee or a beer.
- The collection includes some 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and more than 700 of Van Gogh’s letters. ↩
- Tourist guide books from before September 2015 list the old address, at Paulus Potterstraat 7. ↩
- Unfortunately the I amsterdam City Card pass does not entitle you to skip the line. You will receive your ticket upon presenting the pass at the cash desk. ↩
- Note: the companion’s ticket is not available online. Please contact one of the hosts outside the museum once you’ve arrived. The host will take care of the rest. ↩
- That figure represents 10.5% more visitors than in 2015, when the museum welcomed 1.9 million visitors. ↩
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