Sunday, December 4, 2011

A museum nestled in the Dutch woods

When Elliot's mom lived in Holland in the late 60s she visited a museum nestled in the Veluwe national park, near a city called Arnhem, about 50 miles east of Rotterdam. She told us it was the best museum she'd ever been to, especially because of the free white bikes visitors could use to get around the sculpture garden and national park grounds (21 square miles). Visiting this museum has been on our list of things to do in Holland for a while, so we finally decided to go. Plus, friends of my parents live in Arnhem and my grandparents' grave is also in Ede, a town close by. Three things checked off in one day!

[left] bringing flowers to friends, a Dutch tradition [right] the entrance
My parents' friend, Ton, was kind enough to meet us for a coffee in Arnhem and then drive us to the museum. This turned out to be very convenient, and almost necessary, since we'd come by train to Arnhem and it was another 20 minute drive to the park entrance, and then another 15 minutes to the museum entrance. Thank you, Ton!

The extraordinary fog made it difficult to see the natural beauty of the park with all the fall colors still in full force. It was also just too cold to ride the bikes around the park. Regardless, we enjoyed the scenery and the drive to the museum.

[top] Van Gogh [mid] fence, screenprinted on mirror [bottom] lovely design of the museum

The Kröller Müller museum is, I must say, in the top three for me. The proprietor of the art collection, Helen Kröller-Müller, was one of the first people in the world to see the genius of Van Gogh and collect his first pieces (and hundreds more). Other artists include Mondrian, Gauguin, Cranach, Gris, and of course Picasso. Wonderful museum, incredible art, lovely atmosphere. Wish we could've spent the whole day there. I guess we'll have to come back!

Kröller-Müller Museum's sculpture garden
After a short walk through the sculpture garden and quick bite to eat at the museum café, we just barely made the bus to Ede. I had some general directions to the cemetery where my grandparents were buried about 18 years ago. This was my first time visiting. When we finally got there, I realized that I didn't have a piece of vital information: I only had their grave numbers, but not their section number. And this cemetery was HUGE! The friendly man cleaning the graves asked us if we needed help and with the Dutch I do know, I told him our family name and he led us to the administration building where another man helped us. He pulled out this enormous 1993 binder and I thought, oh my, this is going to take forever. No on-line database?! Luckily, the first man came running back, tapped on the window, and in Dutch said, "I remembered! I know where it is!" He lead us straight to the right place, about 10 meters from where we met before. Very kind staff.

Visiting Oma and Opa in Ede

My parents had just visited the grave and gave it a good cleaning, but it was already looking a bit weathered. I cleaned it off and took out the weeds. We also bought six tulip bulbs to plant. I hope they make it until spring. It's a very simple grave; straightforward, nothing fancy. My Oma and Opa are both buried here, along with my Oma's mother. I remember my Oma and Opa very well, especially since they lived near us (and then with us) in San Luis Obispo, for several years before they both passed away. My Oma was such a spirited and animated woman, always laughing and joking around. I have very fond memories of her. My Opa was a more serious man, although I remember playing with his hair a lot when I was young, while they were living on the east coast. He would just sit there and let me stick up his hair in a mohawk! He also was a fantastic chef, painter, photographer, and he sewed my Oma's clothes. A true Renaissance man, like my dad (minus the sewing). It was very nice to visit their grave, recall a few memories of them, and feel 'close' to family, especially when I'm so far from the rest.

Dad, Oma, Opa and Erika (Oma's niece) - Den Haag 1954
Three hours later we were back in Rotterdam. We had an appointment to see an apartment on the west side of the city, but still very close to the center. We'd like to stay in Rotterdam for at least another four months, until my current work contract ends in April. The apartment is lovely, half of what we're currently paying, and we're taking it!



  1. The Kroller-Muller is truly great; let's go again soon!

  2. what a great entry. it was so nice to think of your oma and opa. i remember visiting with them when my family would come to see you all :)

  3. What a delightful description of the museum. Too bad we were in the neighborhood and missed it! Next time. Glad you could visit with Oma and Opa. We had the same experience with very helpful staff.
    Stunning photos, again.

  4. PS ..1954 was a Very good year, as my mom and dad would attest to!


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