As summer vacation starts, many of us will be traveling and visiting museums. When I worked at the Smithsonian, the galleries would stage big blockbuster exhibitions during the busy summer months. What are your summer holiday plans? Does it involve museum-going? I’m looking forward to visiting the Winslow Homers at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine, and returning to the Louisiana Museum on the Baltic coast of Denmark.

Earlier this year, Tom and I visited two very different but equally fine museums in the Netherlands. We only had 2 1/2 days and, being short on time, selected museums that were interesting, manageable and represented the distinct points of views of their founders.

The Kroller-Muller Museum, located in De Hoge Veluwe National Park in Otterlo, houses a stellar collection of artwork by Vincent van Gogh – the world’s second largest. In addition, there is an impressive sculpture garden park with pieces by Rodin, Moore, Hepworth, Serra, Dubuffet and more. The core of the collection was acquired by heiress Helene Kroller-Muller during the early 20th century.

 Dramatic sculptures outside the entrance to the Kroller-Muller Museum. Above is K-piece by Mark Di Suvero (1933).
 It was the special exhibit Vincent is Back that we anxiously wanted to see.
 Many of the paintings and drawings in this show are from Van Gogh’s Dutch period. Because of their sensitivity to light, they are seldom exhibited. These somber pieces are quite different from the exuberant works he painted in France.
 Next to the dark Dutch period works, Van Gogh’s Provence paintings are even more vibrant and lively. Did you know he chose still-life subject matters because he couldn’t afford models?
Below is Terrace of a Cafe at Night (Arles, September 1888), the very first starry night scene Van Gogh painted.
 Leaving the Van Gogh exhibit, we toured the permanent collection and came across two Piet Mondriaan paintings. While I recognized the bottom piece as a Mondriaan, I had no idea he painted Impressionist landscapes, such as the top painting, early in his career.
 Magnificent sculptures inside and outside within the impressive 61 acre park – one of the largest sculpture gardens in Europe!
 Above is the sensual Cloud Shepherd by Jean Arp (1953), and below is the very moving Niobe by Constant Permeke (1951).
 After our visit, we drove to the city of Maasstricht, and wandered the historic streets. Here are a few photos taken around Vrijthof, the main square.
 It was early spring, and the pollarded Plane trees were still bare. Quite haunting!
 The looming red tower of St. John’s Church.
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Named after Pieter Teyler van der Hulst, the Teylers Museum in Haarlem is actually the oldest museum in the Netherlands. Teyler was a powerful and wealthy merchant, banker and champion of the Enlightment. Teyler left his collection of books, artwork, fossils, minerals and scientific instruments to promote science as well as the arts. Thus was born one of Europe’s most fascinating cabinets of curiosities!
We absolutely loved Haarlem! It was like visiting one of Veermeer’s paintings.

The Teylers Museum is unlike any we’ve seen. The resplendent Oval Room, which dates from 1784, is lavishly paneled and filled with scientific instruments, gems and minerals.

Look at the amazing sun bleached oak paneling!
Now THIS is salon style! More is definitely more here in the two Paintings Galleries featuring Dutch works from 1780 – 1930.
Below is the Fossil Room with case after case of corals and fossils. Notice the ornate cast iron floor grate running the length of the room.
And here are a few photos around town.
This charming building dates to 1548.
Even the street brickwork is fantastic!
I hope you’ve enjoyed these tours. Have a wonderful summer, and happy travels!! ~ Loi