Museum Voorlinden: Perfect for Kids
Museum Voorlinden in Wassenaar, The Netherlands has been on my radar for a while. (Wassenaar is a suburb of The Hague and easily reached by public transportation from Den Haag Central.) I’m a big fan of contemporary and modern art. I find it interesting and easily digestible with kids. We had not yet visited Museum Voorlinden though since it is not part of the Dutch Museumkaart program. As a private museum, admission is a hefty €15/person but children are free.
On the shortest day of the year, when the winter ho-hums had set over the house I took just the Big Little with me to visit Museum Voorlinden. I figured we could use a little pick-me-up.
The museum sits on the Voorlinden Estate in the dunes of Wassenaar. There is ample onsite free parking. You walk past the estate to access the new modern museum. In summer the gardens are all done up and perfect for a visit. There is also a 40 min “hike” through the dunes on the property. You can visit the estate and grounds without purchasing a ticket.
Once you purchase your ticket everything must be stored. You are not allowed to carry any bag, coat or anything in the museum. Lockers are free and ample. We stored our stuff, hung our coats and headed into the museum with only the included guidebook and my phone. We did see several families with strollers inside the museum.
The museum building is a work of art itself. It plays with indoor spaces that feel like you are outside. The natural light and neutral colors are calming and comforting. There were plenty of people just enjoying the spaces of the building, sitting on benches looking outside onto the surrounding property.
Museum Voorlinden’s permanent collection is fun and so accessible to kids. Skyspace by James Turrell (1943) puts the focus on the sky, framing whatever is happening above. This room is accessed through automatic doors that lead to an indoor/outdoor room to watch the clouds go by.
The chairs in the room are tilted to perfectly accommodate your skyward viewing.
Another favorite is Swimming Pool by Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich (1973). Here you view a swimming pool in the middle of the gallery from above. It looks just as a pool should.
Yet as you peer down you can see people moving around inside the pool.
A staircase takes you downstairs so you can enter the pool. You stand beneath the water and look up into the gallery. The illusion is fascinating from both above and below.
As you’re coming up the stairs from the pool you won’t want to miss the tiny elevator doors. I don’t think any child could miss them, but an adult could certainly walk past them. You can hear the elevators moving, the doors open and close, the numbers light up…but where do they go?
The Big Little was completely fascinated by the elevators. He asked the staff some questions to find out who might be using these elevators. He pondered, that perhaps there are some mice that quite like to see the art exhibits as well. He was sad he never caught anyone or anything inside the elevators when they opened.
The Big Little wasn’t sure what to make of Couple under an Umbrella by Ron Mueck (1958). Every detail is accounted for. Their toenails and wrinkles are all in place and highly realistic.
The steel sculpture Open Ended (2007-2008) by Richard Serra (1938) is placed in its own room, such that you can wander through it and then climb some stairs and take it in from above. We listened to our footsteps echo as we explored this huge sculpture.
We’ve actually seen several other of Serra’s sculptures in Bilbao, Spain at the Guggenheim. (Read about our Bilbao trip here.)
The museum is host to plenty of traveling works as well. We had a fairly serious discussion about what makes something art in a few of the galleries. We also had an epic game of i-spy in the rooms of monochromatic stacking objects.
The large gallery rooms are so inviting to kids. We walked around looking at the wood and pondering where the artist may have found it all and how he made such a perfect circle.
Several pieces made us question if they were real and if not then what were they made of.
I think one of the things I love about viewing modern art with the Big Little is he ponders if he can do it himself. He loves how some of the projects are simply objects sorted in different ways.
“I could do something like that at home,” he said.
The museum is perfectly small. We took a little over an hour to explore the exhibits. That’s perfect for a five year old. You could certainly spend longer if you didn’t have kids with you.
The museum also hosts a stunning library. You can make an appointment to visit and view the books but we just peered in through the glass.
The restaurant on the property is in the old estate house. They have a simple menu. We popped in for a cup of soup, some pie and a coffee. Almost everyone was having pie!
It was the prefect way to end our visit. We sketched a bit of what we had seen and just enjoyed a bit of quiet time before heading back to the real world.
We saw tons of families at the museum, so don’t be afraid to bring the kids. The one thing is to keep a close eye on them as the exhibits are all free standing in the rooms and beg kids to touch them. Even my five year old had to remind himself a few times that we couldn’t touch the art, because it is just so touchable!
I highly recommend a visit here. I hope to be back in nicer weather to take on the property as a whole.
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