Helene Kroeller-Mueller’s dream of establishing her own museum began following an art appreciation course given by art historian H.P. Bremmer that she and her daughter attended in their home town of Otterlo, the Netherlands.
Bremmer soon became a family friend and Kroeller-Mueller’s art adviser as she and he purchased a vast collection of over 11,500 art objects with her businessman husband Anton’s huge fortune. Among these were 91 paintings and 175 works on paper by her fellow countryman, Vincent van Gogh, the largest private collection of van Gogh’s outside that of the artist’s family, and 19th and 20th century masterpieces by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Fernand Leger, Georges Seurat, Juan Gris and Piet Mondrian. These treasures were displayed at the Wm. H. Mueller & Co. headquarters, the company of which Anton Kroeller-Mueller was the Director.
In 1933 Helene Kroeller-Mueller wrote: “Part of the intention of forming this collection was to show – to prove – that abstract art is not something insurmountable but that it has always existed. That is why you find new and older works here side by side. I meant to use the old to support the right of the new to exist”.
Belgian architect Henry van de Velde was commissioned by Kroeller–Mueller to design a museum in the natural setting of the 60 acres that the Kroeller-Muellers owned in Otterlo. The “Rijksmuseum Kroeller-Mueller was opened in 1938 and Helene Kroeller-Mueller was its first Director until her death in 1939.
When Anton Kroeller-Mueller’s wealth took a downturn, it was thought best to donate the museum and its grounds to the local government, once it had promised to keep the grounds, building and the collection intact and maintain them all in perpetuity.
In 1961 a magnificent sculpture garden, the largest in Europe, was designed by J.T.P. Bijhouwer and opened in what is now called the Hoge Veluwe National Park in Otterlo. The sculptures include magnificent pieces by Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Richard Serra, and Jean Dubuffet. Two pavilions originally designed by revered Dutch architects of the 1960s, Aldo van Eyck and Gerrit Rietveld have been rebuilt in the park. A new exhibition wing designed by Wim Quist was added to the Museum in 1977.
An entire day can be spent exploring the grounds, Museum and sculpture garden either on foot or on the white bicycles that are available to ride free with the price of admission. The St. Hubertus pond is laden with tame carp that readily eat out of one’s hand; for human sustenance there is an excellent café. The Museum has a program of temporary exhibitions that display works from the permanent collection as well as exhibits of current contemporary art.
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Closed Mondays
Admission: 14 euros
Address: Houtkampweg 6, Otterlo, the Netherlands
Telephone: 31 318 59 12 41 Website: www.kmm.ne