Museum Voorlinden

A New Museum,

a Different Note

The brand-new Fondation Louis Vuitton opened on the fringes of the Paris Bois de Boulogne. In Milan, the Fondation Prada opened its doors; in Moscow the Garage, in Los Angeles the Eli Broad Museum, and in London the Newport Street Gallery. The list is many times longer and already virtually impossible to keep up with. Once you realize what else is under construction in, among other places, Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Berlin and Cape Town, you’ll scratch you head and wonder: What’s going on?! A new generation of museums is shooting up all over the world, and the Netherlands is playing its part. On the coast, amid the green, you will find Museum Voorlinden. This article, published in WOTH Magazine No 1, was written in honour of the opening of Museum Voorlinden. A museum for modern and contemporary art. That’s what this piece is about.

Anyone visiting Voorlinden in the future will probably arrive full of expectations. Curious people will reach the tree-lined driveway after a short trip or a long one. There’s a radiant white building in the distance, shall we have a coffee first? Let’s walk on. A colourful garden accompanies the visitors to the entrance. The sound of children playing rings out from the woods. Arm in arm, a young couple carrying a picnic basket walks towards the dunes. But first, the museum. The elongated shape of the building comprises dune-sand-coloured stone alternated with transparent glass. The entire building is elevated on a similar stone plinth; a colonnade comprising white steel columns around the receding body of the building carries the ingenious roof construction. The scale and proportions correspond to those of both a football pitch and a Greek temple. Despite the modern look, many aspects of the building refer to classic architecture, the portico in front of the entrance, the six columns (hexastyle) down the short side as well as its symmetry and proportioning. The interior is roughly divided in three, following the museum programme: collection presentations, alternating exhibitions and permanent in-situ works. The interior consists of some 20 high rooms, some that receive daylight, some that can be darkened, an auditorium, a library, a print room, an educational space, a restoration studio and a museum shop. The incredibly bright light incidence is remarkable, it’s the result of ingeniously cut pipes placed all over the roof, allowing measured amounts of the characteristic light of the Dutch coast into the building. A velum and transparent glass roof with integrated indirect LED-lighting ensures that a balanced, almost magical light illuminates the works of art both on sunny days and in the evenings.

Besides exhibitions, Museum Voorlinden will permanently display a number of works of art. Integrated in the building is James Turrell’s spherical Skyspace (1943) and Richard Serra’s mysterious corten steel sculpture Open Ended (1939). Both works of art require the active participation of the visitor. Merely viewing them is not enough; you have to go inside to experience them. Museum Voorlinden also has permanent works of art by Maurizio Cattelan (1960) and an illusionistic Swimming Pool by Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich (1973). Semi-permanent is the both hilarious and tragicomic Couple under an Umbrella by Australian Ron Mueck (1958). Soon, Museum Voorlinden will open its doors to all visitors, whether they come from close by or from Fifth Avenue. I’m proud and I’m curious: curious to see the reactions of the visitors. And so I say to everyone: ‘Welcome!’


Wim Pijbes, 
Former Director Museum Voorlinden.
From January 2017 onwards managing director of foundation Stichting Droom en Daad.




This production was published in WOTH No1. This issue is still available in english via Bruil & van der StaaijOr get a subscription here!

Dutch versions of WOTH can be ordered in our shop and an NL subscription is available here.