- Hold the world’s largest collection of van Gogh works
- 17,359 objects
- 35,000 books, articles, journals, and catalogues
- Adlib Solution
Cutting edge at The Van Gogh Museum
Vincent van Gogh is more popular than ever. Like a rock legend who died too young, his life and work are constantly being rediscovered by new young fans. One and a half million people visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam last year, an impressive figure for a relatively small museum. The institution is now taking a new approach to presenting Van Gogh's works, increasing access digitally, and deepening our understanding of the Dutchman who, in his brief ten years as a working artist, changed art forever.
“The world’s largest collection of the works of van Gogh is not the only attraction; people are drawn to the man himself, to the myth. His thoughts about life, its struggles and possibilities. Love and loss, passion, society. And hard, determined work. Much of who he was is captured in his lively letters to his brother Theo and the arts establishment of the day. The more you know about someone, the more interesting he becomes – and no other artist is as well-documented as van Gogh,” says Nikola Eltink, Sector Manager at the Van Gogh Museum.
Two hundred canvases, five hundred drawings, and seven hundred and fifty letters are given depth and context by a large collection of facts, data, and contemporary documents. The 17,359 objects at the museum and 35,000 books, articles, journals, and catalogues at the library are a gold mine for studies and research of the pioneering van Gogh and contemporary famous artists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The museum itself has added thousands of photographs of paintings and details of paintings taken in various lighting over the years. A great deal of this material is digitally accessible and the index is constantly expanded. Before Axiell’s Adlib system came into the picture, all the data were managed by twenty-six separate systems. Now, 200 employees can work in the same management system to quickly and easily access the information they need. As a supplier, Axiell is also involved in the decision process related to the technology. The solution has brought the stability needed to launch new initiatives.
The collections will now be hung and presented in an entirely new way, with focus on how van Gogh developed and how his life took shape at the same time. The website will be expanded and will offer visual surprises. An Experience Tour based on visual material from the museum will travel the world. And the museum is planning several blockbusters, such as the co-exhibition with iconic Norwegian Expressionist Edvard Munch, a contemporary of van Gogh’s.
“We work extensively with new media, which is unusual for a museum. But we have a relatively young audience, especially on Friday evenings when we hold arts events with pictures, music, and speakers on a van Gogh theme,” Etink explains. The beautiful building from the 1960s is also being rejuvenated. It was built by the government after Theo’s grandson, who had inherited the works, founded the van Gogh Foundation and loaned the collections on the condition that a museum was built. A large new entrance facing Museumplein will open additional space and create a closer connection to the neighbouring Rijksmusem and Stedelijk Museum. Like most of the renowned institutions in Amsterdam, they also have their backbone of knowledge in an Axiell system.
The magic of van Gogh and his art does not fade; quite the opposite in fact. Is that due to the immediate expressiveness of the art, that which instils more deep-seated emotions than experiences of the subject depicted? Or is it the fate, the thoughts and philosophical questioning, of Vincent van Gogh the man that resonate in the hearts and minds of people all over the world? Most likely both.
And what about the severed ear? That incident hardly does justice to the hard-working artist who had a systematic plan for developing his art. And yet, his disappointments in love, his final illness, and his premature death at 37 were all part of what created the immortal myth.