Stedelijk Museum

Stedelijk Museum (49)

Two great museums in the large Museumplein area will attract your attention because of their international fame. These are the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. The third museum here, however, the Stedelijk Museum does not cower before the fame and prestige of the other two, and houses a collection of incalculable worth, also considered to be one of the world’s most valuable. 

The Stedelijk Museum, which was opened in 1895 after a donation from Sophia-Augusta de Bruyn, is known as the “House of museums”, a name that should come as no surprise as its galleries and rooms feature all disciplines and fine art: painting, sculpture, photography, and even dance, theatre, music and cinema. Such an avant-garde approach was championed by William Sandberg, an artist who held the post of museum director from 1945.

Sandberg’s presence at the Stedelijk Museum revolutionised the design of the museum, and promoted criticisms from reactionary elements who championed a classical and historical approach to collections. Sandberg’s idea of turning this Amsterdam museum into a integral centre of art, inspired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was not initially convincing but it nonetheless broke with tradition and definitively changed the course of the Stedelijk Museum, turning it into what it is today. 

Revolutionary exhibitions and striking events took place in the museum and these began to interest the people of Amsterdam in modern art. 

Klee, Picasso, Matisse, Malevitch, Mondrian and Max Ernst are some of the most prestigious names of the twentieth century artists whose works are exhibited in the Stedelijk Museum. Its collection, however, is rather eclectic, which is something that tends to happen in private collections.

Apart from its interesting collection, the building, like the Rijksmuseum, is in keeping with the Neo-renaissance aesthetics of the zone and combines brick and stone, gables and towers. It was designed by the city architect, Weissman.

You should be aware, however, that the museum is currently being renovated and therefore has a temporary location, at number 5 Oosterdokskade. After the spectacular renovation that is planned, the museum will return to the square, although it is envisaged that this will not happen until 2009. 

If you have time, do not miss your visit to the Stedelijk Museum. Perhaps it is not as famous as the Van Gogh or the Rijksmuseum, but admiring its contemporary masterpieces is a priceless experience, or at least it will not leave you greatly out of pocket.

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