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The museum of silence

The Kröller-Müller Museum is the visual arts museum in silence. In silence of nature, amidst peace and space.

Silence has become a rare commodity, it is hard to come by. On the Veluwe, in National Park The Hoge Veluwe, where the museum is located, silence is tangible and audible. Yes, audible, in the rustling of the leaves, the sounds of the animals, such as the ravens’ croak or the deers’ troat in late summer. In our museum you come to realise what silence is, when you hear the murmur of people or catch the sound of moving works of art. In the museum the eye is more important than the ear and mouth. Silence opens the mind.

Our museum wishes to provide the opportunity to allow thoughts to run free and learn something new while face to face with works of art, or simply to leave our busy lives behind for a brief moment and relax.
Modern art of the last 150 years provides the guideline in this aspect. What fascinates me about the development of art, is the constant opening of new perspectives, sometimes by consciously tearing down old views, sometimes by including the existing views in the new ones. Change and renewal provide liveliness, wonder, sincerity, and lead to respect and validation. When attention for continual processes falters and consolidation occurs, when ideas become dogmas and canons are lined up, rigidity sets in and power becomes more important than imagination.

The museum is in danger of abusing its power to present historical developments as inescapable and unequivocal. In a sense all choices by museums are expressions of power, the imposement of a certain view on history. The Kröller-Müller Museum is very aware of this. The view of the development of art this museum presents, is very much influenced by a typical western, twentieth century modernistic view. Our goal to keep the collection, which has been continuously growing since 1906, true to itself, but simultanuously, by changing presentations, education and information, and by well-considered purchases of recent art, undermining the idea of a crystallized hierarchy among works of art, and by continuously emphasize their changing meaning.

For this we need the silence of nature, peace, and space. Art seeks attention and requires wonder. If you can muster these, you are well equipped to undergo the extraordinary experience offered by the Kröller-Müller Museum.

Evert van Straaten
Director of the Kröller-Müller Museum