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Kunstmuseum Den Haag.

From fine art to architecture at Kunstmuseum TEXT: MAYA WITTERS  |  PHOTOS: KUNSTMUSEUM DEN HAAG

As one of the largest museums in the Netherlands, Kunstmuseum Den Haag boasts a diverse collection of modern art and wide-ranging exhibitions. But equally remarkable is the museum building itself, an Art Deco marvel so precious that it is actually catalogued as a collection item. In 2020, the museum is organising a major exhibition around the building’s history and design. The Kunstmuseum – known as Gemeentemuseum Den Haag until a recent name change – also has plenty of other interesting exhibitions coming up in 2020, as well as its usual state-of-theart children’s programme and permanent collection. Head of collections, Doede Hardeman, takes us through some of the highlights on the calendar, and begins: 14  |  Issue 73  |  January 2020

“With our exhibitions and the stories we tell, our aim is always to bring art closer to the people.”

Magnificent Mondrian The Kunstmuseum harbours a collection of over 160,000 objects on rotating display. “Rather than an encyclopaedic selection of historic art objects, our collection is centred around certain thematic cores: we have an extensive fashion collection, for example, and a lot of impressionist works,” explains Hardeman. Pride of place is given to the museum’s Mondrian collection, the largest in the world, with over 300 works, showing the painter’s evolution from figurative to abstract and geometric art. “Our Mondrian collection is on permanent

display in the museum, alongside a selection of highlights of modern art: Monet, Bacon, Schiele, Kirchner… In addition to this permanent collection, we organise 30 exhibitions every year, ranging from big, crowd-pleasing productions to more niche showcases for connoisseurs,” Hardeman enthuses.

Art Deco splendour One of the major exhibitions for 2020 has a very particular subject: the Kunstmuseum building itself. Built in 1935, the building is the last-ever designed by famed architect H.P. Berlage. “The museum is a pearl of late Art Deco. As it was built in the middle of an economic crisis, materials were expensive, but labour was cheap. This resulted in a building with sober brick walls, but a