Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Museum Voorlinden, a treat indoors and out

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By John Dunkelgrün.


As of this week The Hague, or to be precise Wassenaar, can boast yet another museum of true world class. On Sunday September 11th the Museum Voorlinden opened to the public.

Next to the existing villa on the Voorlinden estate a team from Kraaijvanger Architects designed a stunning building to display the art collection meticulously assembled over half a century by Rotterdam businessman Joop van Caldenborgh. The new building is surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful flower gardens designed by the internationally reknowned landscape architect Piet Oudolf.


Wim Pijbes Joop and van-Caldenborgh
Wim Pijbes and Joop van Caldenborgh.

The first thing you notice when entering the building is the light. Natural light is filtered through over 100,000 little tubes and diffused by sheets of semi transparent material. The walls, all white, are at least five meters high which together with the light wooden flooring evoke a Zen-like feeling of rest. There are many room-high windows, glass walls rather, looking out onto Oudolfs gardens, giving a holistic sensation. They are placed so that from almost wherever you are in the museum, you can see the gardens.

When you drop off your coats or bags, you can look through a glass wall into the library, a large five or six meter high room with books from floor to ceiling. Though there is a landing halfway, it is designed so that you just see the books on evenly spaced shelves, an art installation 6in itself.

Joop van Caldenborgh explains Richard Serra.

There are rooms for exhibitions, for borrowed collections and for permanent displays (an enormous Richard Serra on its specially constructed floor would be prohibitive to move). The opening exposition is called Full Moon, 40 art works chosen from different times chosen from the Caldenborgh collection. It is designed to lure the spectator to look closely, observe and think. It works!

On the public opening day Mr. Van Caldenborgh, dressed exactly like the young staff and carrying an identity badge on a ribbon gave a short lecture. It was in an intimate lecture room lighted by an art installation in (on?) the ceiling by James Turrell.

His wife meanwhile in true Dutch fashion, arrived on her bike.

Outdoor garden
Outdoor garden

This museum is worth going to again and again. The collection is large enough for many special exhibitions and, there will be changing displays with works from other museums. Under the direction of Wim Pijbes, previously director of the Rijksmuseum, Voorlinden can be sure of an exciting future.

Without buying an entrance ticket to the museum proper, you can just enjoy the gardens or walk into the dunes that are part of the estate. Meanwhile, the original villa which is a copy of an English country house, has been made into a restaurant. Recognising the good taste of Mr. Van Caldenborgh, this too should prove to be a treat.


On the main picture: “Cooking pots”.

Photography By John Dunkelgrün.

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