GEMEENTEMUSEUM, THE HAGUE, HOLLAND – Berlage’s masterpiece

No, that's not us; other people spotted this cubicle first!

Mevrouw T and I love the “Gemeentemuseum” (Municipal museum) in den Haag not so much for its contents as for its form. It happens to have an outstanding Kandinsky exhibition at the moment, together with a couple of interesting quirky ones on Paris haute couture and, believe it or not, Tupperware. Who would have thought that such humble plastic would one day become valued as art?

But the building itself will pull us back there time after time, regardless of what’s inside it. Probably the most revered Dutch architect ever is Hendrik Petrus Berlage (1856-1934). He designed the street plan of old Amsterdam South, and most famously Amsterdam’s ‘Beurs’, the stock exchange building near Dam Square.

Courtyard, Gemeentemuseum, den Haag


Sadly, he died before the work he regarded as his masterpiece, the Gemeentemuseum (Municipal Museum), was completed in The Hague in 1935. It’s a triumph of simple clean straight lines, influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, with intricate patterned brickwork on the exterior, and understated coloured tiling inside. Filtered natural light floods the exhibition areas from above.

There’s a brilliant exhibition in there at the moment, Kandinsky and der Blaue Reiter, a great collection from the Russian artist’s most colourful period, when he and a group of German artists including Franz Marc, worked in Munich just before the outbreak of WWI.

Wassily Kandinsky: Orientals

Okay, I admit it, I took a couple of surreptitious snaps when the attendants weren’t looking. But I didn’t use a flash – Kandinsky will never know I was there, and the bad colour balance should ensure nobody but me will ever want to send this picture around cyberspace.

Trip notes: Den Haag is a forty minute train ride from Amsterdam. Entry to the Kandinsky en der Blaue Reiter exhibition is EUR12.50.

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Filed under Art, Holland, Travel- Europe

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