At the Heart of a Nature Reserve, a Magnificent Obsession
Jump on one of the free white bicycles left about for public use, and make your way to the center of the vast De Hoge Veluwe nature and game reserve, Holland’s largest national park, to see the remarkable art collection housed in the Kroller-Muller Museum.
Both park and art collection were left to the Dutch state in 1938 by industrialist Anton Kroller (the 13,000 acres of woodland served as his private hunting grounds), whose wife, Helene, spent her life and fortune amassing 278 works by Vincent van Gogh.
These are the highlights of the museum’s display but by no means all there is to see. Together with the collection in Amsterdam’s newly refurbished van Gogh Museum, this constitutes nearly the entire oeuvre of the 19th-century Dutch artist, including one of the Sunflowers, The Bridge at Arles, and L’Arlesienne.
Kroller-Muller went on to collect work by other major artists, predominantly of the 19th and 20th centuries: Courbet, Seurat, Picasso, and Mondrian, to name a few. Surrounding the museum is one of Europe’s largest outdoor sculpture gardens, 47 acres studded with works by 20th-century sculptors such as Henry Moore, Richard Serra, and Claes Oldenburg.
If there are enough hours in the day, trade your white bike in for your car and drive the few miles to visit nearby Het Loo, the recently restored royal palace and gardens. It was built in the late 17th century by the prince and princess of Orange, who would thereafter go on to take over the throne of England as William and Mary.
A small-scale Versailles, the palace houses a recently organized museum celebrating the history of the House of Orange, but the formal Baroque gardens are the jewel in this royal crown.