It all began with a course in art appreciation. In the late-19th century, the Kröller-Müller family was one of the wealthiest in Holland. Anton Kröller was chairman of Wm. H. Müller & Co., a conglomerate with large interests in shipping, the American grain trade and iron ore mining in Africa. One day, his wife, Helene Kröller-Müller decided to enroll herself and her daughter in an art appreciation class by H.P. Bremmer, a renowned arts teacher at the time. Inspired by his classes, Helene soon began collecting art. Before long, she had amassed the largest private collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world and many other priceless pieces by the likes of Renoir, Monet, Israels and Picasso. The collection grew rapidly into a treasure trove of 11,500 art pieces, most of which were kept at the family’s country estate in the forests of the Hoge Veluwe, in the east of the Netherlands, and the Wm. H. Müller & Co. headquarters in The Hague.
The Kröller-Müller Museum
When the recession struck in the early 1930′s, the family presented the art collection to the Dutch state to keep it intact on the condition that a museum be built to house it. A museum was built in the forests of the Hoge Veluwe near the family’s St. Hubert Hunting Lodge. In 1938, the Kröller-Müller Museum opened its doors to the public.
Today, the Kröller-Müller museum is a true treasure trove for art lovers from around the world. It is a surreal experience to stop and stare at some of the world’s most famous paintings at such close proximity. Please scroll down to view a photo essay of some of the most stunning pieces in this museum:
The Sculpture Garden
The museum’s unique location, deep in the woods of the Hoge Veluwe, inspired the opening of a Sculpture Garden in 1961, exhibiting works by amongst others Rodin, Moore and Hepworth.
The Hoge Veluwe National Park
The Hoge Veluwe National Park is the largest privately-managed conservation area in the Netherlands. The Park covers 5,400 hectares of woodland, heathland, peat bogs and drift sand. Together with the Kröller-Müller Museum, the Sculpture Garden and St. Hubert Hunting Lodge, the Park forms a unique and internationally renowned combination of nature, art and architecture. There are a multitude of walking and bicycle trails as well as auto-routes throughout the park. I recommend hopping on one of the free white bicycles to explore the many beautiful spots in the park.
Note: A big thank you goes to the Kröller-Müller Museum for sponsoring my visit.
Read other Velvet Escape posts on the Netherlands: