The museum was built to display Van Caldenborgh’s vast and growing collection of contemporary art. He started to collect art over 50 years ago, and as the number of works in his possession grew, so did the scale of the pieces he was buying. He quickly realised that in order to house these works, he might have to create something especially. So he did. And the result is truly staggering.
The building is ultra-modern in design with a roof that floats over the base structure, shading the footpaths below. There are 12 galleries, a museum shop, a library and education centre at Museum Voorlinden. Everything, from the quality of the art to the facilities and gardens, is meticulously excellent, making it hard to believe this is a private space, largely for how much it must have cost to execute this project to such a high standard. There are some works on permanent display in bespoke galleries such as Richard Serra’s 216 ton steel labyrinth sculpture Open Ended, a James Turrell room Skyspace, Leandro Erlich’s Swimming Pool where visitors look to be submerged under water, Maurizio Cattelan’s tiny elevators, a Kusama Infinity Room, and the startling Couple under an Umbrella by Ron Mueck.
The library houses van Caldenborgh’s rare artist book collection (Matisse, Picasso) and large collection of self-portraits by, not least, Man Ray, Henry Moore, Rineke Dijkstra, and Bill Viola. The changing displays in the museum utilise the collection and loans from other institutions to put together playful and engaging exhibitions by some of the world’s most celebrated contemporary artists, including the current exhibitions (2019/2020) by Anselm Kiefer and Do Ho Suh. This is an immersive and fun, at times touching experience for the whole family to enjoy. Visitors are also encouraged to walk around the estate and take in the landscape. It is surrounded by a forest with winding waters and vast grasslands and dunes which are native to this part of the Netherlands.
Museum Voorlinden is located on the historical Voorlinden Estate, with landscaped gardens and beautiful country house that are now a national monument. A short walk from the estate is the Clingenbosch estate, also owned by van Caldenbogh, where one can do a two hour guided tour of the 50-acre sculpture garden and see his monumental outdoor sculptures by artists like Sol LeWitt, Mario Merz, Henry Moore, Jeff Koons and Jean Arp. The walk is available by booking through the site and includes a cop of tea and ‘a bite to eat’ (interpret that as you will). It is not fully accessible as most of the paths are not paved and currently is only available on a Thursday during the summer.