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Van Gogh Museum — Plan Your Visit

 A gallery in the Van Gogh Museum. Van Gogh's works are arranged thematically rather than chronologically. 
Credit: Jan Kees Steenman / Van Gogh Museum
A gallery in the Van Gogh Museum. Van Gogh’s works are arranged thematically rather than chronologically.
Credit: Jan Kees Steenman / Van Gogh Museum

This is our ultimate guide to the Van Gogh Museum. It is one of Amsterdam’s most popular museums, and one we ourselves visit regularly.

Van Gogh Museum Reopened

Coronavirus measures in the Netherlands have been greatly relaxed. Like most other museums, the Van Gogh Museum, reopened on June 1, 2020.

The museum works with a coronavirus protocol. You must be aware of its rules and limitations.

Naturally the 1.5 metre (5 feet) distance from non-family members rule applies throughout the museum. That means only a limited number of people can enter at a time.

Timed-entry tickets must be bought in advance via the museum’s website. No tickets are sold at the museum itself.

The Van Gogh Museum building is large enough for visitors to remain a the safe distance of 1.5 metre (5 feet) from each non-family members. In order to comply with the social distancing guidelines, a maximum of 200 visitors are allowed in the museum at any one time.

An Amsterdam must-see: Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum is one of the most popular museums to visit in Amsterdam. It contains the largest collection of paintings by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) in the world.

The museum also features works by Van Gogh’s friends and contemporaries. This allows you to see his life and work in context — a helpful and memorable way to enjoy Van Gogh’s art.

In addition to the permanent collection, temporary exhibitions shed additional light on the people, places, and events that influenced Vincent van Gogh.

Van Gogh Museum Tickets

Timed entry tickets must be bought in advance. No ticket sales at the door.

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More information about your tickets:

  • To visit the Van Gogh Museum you must book timed-entry tickets in advance. No tickets are sold at the entrance.
  • You pick the date and time, subject to availability
    • There is a limited number of tickets available for each day and starting time
    • You can enter the museum up to 30 minutes after your reserved starting time
  • The museum accepts printed and mobile vouchers
  • Your tickets gives you access to both the permanent collection and the temporary exhibitions

Free Entrance with the I amsterdam City Card

The Van Gogh Museum (the second most popular museum in the Netherlands) is a stone’s throw from the Rijksmuseum (the most popular museum in the country). It is also right next to the Stedelijk Museum.

If you’re planning to see all three museums, consider buying the I amsterdam City Card. It provides free entrance to 70+ museums, along with a host of other benefits — such as city-wide public transport by metro, tram, bus and ferry.

Guided Tour or Not?

The collection is presented in such a way that you’ll come away with a good idea of who Van Gogh was, what motivated him, where he found inspiration, and how he inspired his contemporaries as well as later artists.

The museum labels and other brief texts accompanying the paintings go a long way in telling Van Gogh’s story.

That said, guides certainly add a lot richness to your experience.

Multimedia Guide

The Van Gogh Museum has a professionally produced multimedia tour available. The tour covers both the permanent collection and the special, temporary exhibitions.

As frequent visitors to the museum we highly recommend this multimedia guide. It highlights many aspects and details your would otherwise miss. The tour provides insights into the life and work of Vincent van Gogh, and further helps you to view his work in context.

The small, lightweight guide hangs around your neck or is held in your hand. Either way, you can easily interact with the screen. Lightweight headphones allow you to listen in any of eleven language.

The allows you to either follow the suggested route through the museum, or to visit only the sections of your choice.

You can pick up up your guide once you are inside the museum. Until September 2020 a reduced rate applies:

  • Adults: €3 (instead of €5)
  • Children under 18 years old: Free (normally €3)

Live Tour Guide

Of course the one drawback of a multimedia tour is that you cannot ask it questions. That is one reason many first time visitors prefer to visit the Van Gogh Museum with a live tour guide.

If this is your first or only visit to the museum, we suggest your seriously consider using a guide.

Van Gogh Museum: Opening Hours, Busiest Days, and Best Time To Visit

  • Busiest days:
    • Friday (all day),
    • Saturday 10:00 – 17:00 (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.), and
    • Sunday 10:00 – 17:00 (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • Busiest times: Every day between 11 am and 3+ pm.
  • Best time to visit: Any day after 17:00 (5 p.m.).

Note: Though this popular museum is busy at times, the timed-entry ticket system ensures that you will have a perfect experience regardless of the day and time you visit.

Since the introduction of the new ticket system the Van Gogh Museum has received the highest visitor appreciation ratings ever.

DatesOpening Hours Van Gogh Museum
Normally (exceptions below):Open daily from 9 am to 7 pm. On Fridays and Saturdays until 9 pm.
June 2 – June 30, 20209 AM to 5 PM
July 1 – August 31, 20209 AM to 7 PM
September 1 – September 30, 20209 AM to 6 PM
October 1 – October 31, 20209 AM to 6 PM, Fridays 9 AM to 9 PM
Public HolidaysChristmas (25 December) and New Year’s Eve (31 December) 9 AM – 5 PM. New Year’s Day (1 January ) 11 AM – 7 PM

How long does a visit to the Van Gogh Museum take?

You can comfortably explore the museum’s permanent collection in approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

However, many people spend two to three hours here, usually because they also take in the additional exhibitions ( which, with rare exceptions, are included in your ticket).

If you visit the museum with a live tour guide, which we highly recommend for first time visitors, count on spending two to two-and-a-half hours.

Café Le Tambourin

Ready for lunch? The Van Gogh Museum includes the pleasant Café Le Tambourin (€€ – €€€). The food is served cafeteria style, but is beautifully presented, and tasty. Many visitors express surprise to find such high quality, delicious food served at a museum restaurant.

Having your lunch here instead of at one of the eateries lining the Museumplein is a good choice.

Museum Shop

If we were to receive €1 for each tourist we spot carrying the distinctive, triangular Van Gogh poster package we’d be able to take more vacations.

The Museum Shop carries an extensive range of Van Gogh books, posters, trinkets, and gadgets. You can buy anything from key rings and eye glass cleaning cloths, and from fashion items to luggage — all sporting a variety of Van Gogh prints.

Oh, and the shop carries some 1,500 titles.

Tip: Instead of spending time and money in the museum’s shop, realize that there is a great collection of Van Gogh books, posters, paintings, and more at Amazon.com.

You’ll likely save money. Plus you will not have to worry that your purchases get damaged in your luggage.

Map: 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. (Dated travel guide books — and many ‘tourist information’ websites — list the old address, at Paulus Potterstraat 7.)

You’ll find the Van Gogh Museum at Museumplein (literally: Museum Square), in between the Rijksmuseum and the Stedelijk Museum.

Map showing the location of the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, and Concertgebouw at Museumplein in Amsterdam

© OpenStreetMap contributors CC BY-SA via Wikimedia Maps

Get there by Tram

Buy your Public Transport Tickets here

Trams 2, 3, 5 and 12, 16 and 24 have stops near the museum. So does the Amsterdam Airport Express (Bus 397) that shuttles between Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and the city.

The nearest stops are Van Baerlestraat (tram 2, 5 or 12) or Museumplein (tram: 3, 5 or 12, bus: 347 or 357).

From Amsterdam Central Station (Amsterdam Centraal Station)

  • Tram 2 or 12
  • Tram 11: change at Leidseplein to tram 2, 5 or 12
  • Metro 52 (Noord/Zuid route) until De Pijp station, change to tram 3 (direction Zoutkeetsgracht) or tram 12 (direction Central station)

From Zuid WTC Station

  • Tram 5 (direction Westergasfabriek)

From Amsterdam Amstel Station

  • Tram 12

From Amsterdam Sloterdijk Station

  • Tram 19, change at Leidseplein to tram 2, 5 or 12

From Muiderpoort Station

  • Tram 3 (direction Zoutkeetsgracht)

Note: The trams are operated by GVB; the buses listed here are not.1 This means that holders of the I amsterdam City Card can travel to the Van Gogh Museum free of charge by tram, but not by bus. (This pass also provides free entrance to the museum.)2

Get there by Taxi

If you prefer to avoid the hustle and bustle of public transport, and you’ve heard nightmare stories about taxis in Amsterdam do what we do: use ViaVan taxi or Uber instead.

Accessibility

The Van Gogh Museum provides excellent accessibility for visitors using a wheelchair or walking aid.

Both buildings include roomy elevators.

The museum has a disabled parking space as well as a dedicated drop off/pick up area.

There is a priority entrance, bypassing the queues. A companion will not have to purchase a ticket.3

Properly harnessed guide dogs are welcome.

Large print guides to the exhibit are available.

Will children enjoy a visit to the Van Gogh Museum?

Children from the age of 6 will thoroughly enjoy the experience. (Oh, and you’ll love this: children ages 0 through 17 get free entrance).

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.

Want to prepare your children for what they are about to see? Give them Color Your Own Van Gogh: [Amazon UK] [Amazon USA]

Amsterdam Van Gogh Museum tickets

The Van Gogh Museum’s Collection

The museum owns the largest collection of paintings by Van Gogh in the world. This includes some 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and more than 700 of Van Gogh’s letters.

Arranged by Themes instead of Chronologically

The collection is displayed thematically rather than chronologically. For instance:

  • Van Gogh’s rural scenes,
  • the artist among his friends, such as Paul Gauguin, Émile Bernard and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec,
  • Van Gogh’s models,
  • his painting techniques, and
  • the painter’s mental decline

This allows visitors to see what inspired Van Gogh, and which artists in turn were inspired by him.

The galleries are laid out well, making the museum a joy to visit. (We know, since we come here on a regular basis.)

Temporary Van Gogh Exhibitions

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 current show is a good example:

Exhibition ‘In the Picture’

Temporary exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum: 'In the Picture'
Temporary exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum: ‘In the Picture’

Exhibition ‘In the Picture’
February 21, 2020 — May 24, 2020 Extended until August 30, 2020

Access to this temporary exhibition is included with your Van Gogh Museum ticket.

Some 75 portraits offer a multifaceted introduction to the wealth of self-portraits and portraits produced by artists of each other in the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century. Key themes include identity and image-building. In the Picture unites major names and new faces.

In addition to portraits by Vincent van Gogh, the exhibition features works by artists including Edvard Munch, Gustave Courbet, Francis Bacon and Helene Schjerfbeck. The exhibition also presents work by modern and contemporary artists who have been inspired by Van Gogh’s self-portraits.

Note: The Van Gogh Museum’s temporary shows provide much additional 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 the museum more than once.

Will you get to see Van Gogh’s Sunflowers?

Van Gogh painted lots of sunflowers (and other flowers as well), including five versions of his best-known sunflowers painting.

One of these versions is in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum. The other versions are at the National Gallery in London, Neue Pinakothek in Munich, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Museum of Art in Tokyo.

Van Gogh’s paintings of Sunflowers are among his most famous. He did them in Arles, in the south of France, in 1888 and 1889. Vincent painted a total of five large canvases with sunflowers in a vase, with three shades of yellow ‘and nothing else’. In this way, he demonstrated that it was possible to create an image with numerous variations of a single colour, without any loss of eloquence.

The sunflower paintings had a special significance for Van Gogh: they communicated ‘gratitude’, he wrote. He hung the first two in the room of his friend, the painter Paul Gauguin, who came to live with him for a while in the Yellow House. Gauguin was impressed by the sunflowers, which he thought were ‘completely Vincent’. Van Gogh had already painted a new version during his friend’s stay and Gauguin later asked for one as a gift, which Vincent was reluctant to give him. He later produced two loose copies, however, one of which is now in the Van Gogh Museum.
– Source: Van Gogh Museum

In 2019 extensive research led the museum’s experts to the conclusion that the 130-year old ‘Sunflowers’ painting, created in 1889, is stable but fragile. For this reason the painting will no longer travel.

Video: Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting: stable, but fragile

Van Gogh Museum’s Buildings

The original building that houses the van Gogh Museum collection was designed by architect Gerrit Rietveld. It 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. Your mileage may differ, as they say.

Museum Director

Emilie Gordenker is the Director of the Van Gogh Museum. The Dutch-American art historian succeeded Alex Rüger on February 1, 2020. Rüger had been in charge for 13 years. He left in the summer of 2019 after his appointment as the new head of the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

Rüger oversaw major renovations and a full redisplay of the collection. During his tenure, visitor numbers grew from 1.4 million to about 2.2 million a year. In 2018 and 2019, the Van Gogh Museum was Amsterdam’s second most visited museum.

Gordenker is the first female director of the museum. Her task is “to continue the successful course of the museum” but also “to broaden the programming and the public.”

Hotels near the Van Gogh

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.

Hotels close to the Van Gogh Museum

Number of Visitors (Do a guess before looking)

The Van Gogh museum is one of Amsterdam’s most popular tourist attractions. In 2019 it welcomed 2.10 million visitors

That means the Van Gogh Museum is now ranked as the second most-visited museum in the Netherlands.

Notably, nearly 90% of visitors rate their visit as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent.’ Small wonder that a study revealed Europeans rate the museum the most admired art gallery in Europe.

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

Postal address

P.O. Box 75366
1070 AJ Amsterdam
T +31 (0)20 570 5200
F +31 (0)20 570 5222
info@vangoghmuseum.nl

Website
Van Gogh Museum

Luggage / Cloakroom

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.

Wi-Fi

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.

 

Avoid the lines: Buy your ticket ahead of time. No need to print your ticket either. You can simply show the voucher on your mobile phone.

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:

Video: How to prounounce ‘Vincent van Gogh’

We have seen and heard Vincent van Gogh’s name misspelled as Van Goff, Van Goth, Vangogh, and Van Koch.


On a Personal Note

Anton

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.

Notes:

  1. The Gemeentelijk Vervoerbedrijf (GVB) is the primary municipal transport service of Amsterdam. It is an independent corporation wholly owned by the city of Amsterdam.
  2. Holders of the I amsterdam City Card get free entrance to the museum, but they must still reserve a timed-entry ticket.
  3. 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.
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Category: Museumquarter, Museums, What to See & Do
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Last updated: Sunday, July 5, 2020 at 2:17 PM, Central European Time (CET)   
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