Friday 27 January 2012

Guided tours at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam

On a visit to Amsterdam recently I had an unexpected free morning so I made the most of my chance to visit the Van Gogh Museum 

As I got to the entrance I found a large group of pupils from a local primary school, not altogether attentive to their teacher’s requests for quiet and to form an orderly line. In fact, it was clear that some of them wouldn’t even have been there, given the choice.

What a delight it was to see the same children, half an hour later, as they were given their guided tour by the museum’s expert educators. Here was one group, open-eyed at the guide’s explanation of painting techniques and brush strokes as they stood in front of the sunflower field painting; there was another group obediently raising their hands to answer questions about the artist’s last works, and here were the children of another group copying the guide as he half covered his eyes to gain insights into yet another masterpiece.

I have written before about the great work at another museum, the CaixaForum Museum in Madrid 
where I was impressed by the wide range of activities on offer. I have also noted in another post how the Netherlands are working hard to fund arts institutions to promote social inclusion in the arts 

For families who take their own children to the Van Gogh Museum there is plenty to do, including a free treasure hunt, a children’s audio tour and workshops for children at the weekend. According to the museum’s brochure, children can even celebrate their birthday party there.

For myself, I was pleasantly surprised to see works by a number of Van Gogh’s friends and colleagues, including Paul Gaugin and Henri Toulouse Lautrec.

So, for full information visit the website, or follow the Van Gogh Museum on Twitter:  @vangoghmuseum

Thanks to the Van Gogh Museum for a great exhibition, and congratulations to their expert educator/guides for bringing the greatness of this painter into the lives of young children. 

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