Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Museum in the Woods

Last year at this time, I was gleefully plotting my research trip to Holland and France, armed with train schedules, bus schedules, any schedule I could get my hands on. One of my goals was to visit the famed Kroller-Muller Museum near Otterlo in the Netherlands, home to a very fine modern art collection and the second largest gathering of van Goghs in the world. Even during my planning, it seemed getting to the KMM via public transportation was going to be tricky, and that proved to be the case. But IT'S WORTH IT. It's a not-miss for any art lover or van Gogh fan visiting Holland.

The museum is situated deep in a national park, the idyllic Hoge Veluwe. Renting a car is by far the best choice, but if that's not an option, here's what you do: take a train from Amsterdam to the tiny station of Ede-Wageningen. Go outside the station to the phalanx of bus-stops and find the one for the Otterlo bus. This bus will deposit you at a random bus-stop outside the little town of Otterlo (officially called the Otterlo Rotunde) where another bus will meet you and take you to the Hoge Veluwe. On my trip it was so far so good ... until this bus stopped at the gates of the national park and the driver made everybody get off to buy a park ticket. Evidently one must buy a combo ticket for park and museum. OK, fine. Until the driver *drove away*! Now what?? How to get to the museum, a few kilometers from the Otterlo park entrance?

Two choices: a) walk or b) bike. The Hoge Veluwe is stocked with hundreds of free white bicycles that visitors can use. So I put my booty on a bike for the first time in about fifteen years, and biked to the KMM -- grumbling the whole way about the lost time and unexpected bout of exercise. So much so that I regret not enjoying the pretty surroundings more. Fortunately I asked a museum guard at the end of my visit where to catch the elusive bus to go BACK to Otterlo and avoid more biking -- be forewarned, you will need to ask somebody if you hope to find the oddly placed bus-stop around the corner from the museum. I'm still puzzling over this whole thing: why did the bus dump us?? What would you do if you were limited-mobility and couldn't walk/bike? It's genuinely bizarre, and if somebody knows the secret, share it here. I almost think the KMM folks want to keep away the maddening hordes of foreign tourists, thus preserving the calm and peace of the museum, by making it an effort to get there. Only the strong survive. I swear van Gogh's portrait was laughing at my sore butt.

But like I said, WORTH IT. It's a charming museum with very fine things, and the outdoor sculpture garden is a treat. Three galleries of van Goghs, some very famous, some less famous but no less interesting. They do have an active loan program, so if you're looking for something in particular, check their website, which helpfully lists what's out on loan. The website also has a link to a Dutch public transport site which will help you work out your schedules for trains/buses. Highly recommended since apparently the trains and buses do not always run beautifully in sync together.

Happy Travels!


CommuniKay said...

I may visit this park tomorrow a.m.
For the Otterlo bus, could you buy the ticket on the bus? Do they leave often?


Sheramy said...

Hi there--
Yes, you buy your ticket from the driver. No, the buses do not run all that often. You can go to the Kroller-Muller museum website (see link at left), and they have a link to a public transportation website where you can search the schedules (look where it says 'Address and Directions'). Pay attention to the bus number--at the Ede Wageningen station there are a number of places for the buses to pull in, and you want to be sure you are standing in the right place. The bus does not stop long at all to pick up passengers.

When leaving the Kroller Muller museum and taking the bus back to Otterlo, I recommend asking a staff member to tell you where the bus stop is, because it is not right in front of the museum. You have to walk down the road a bit, and if you're not sure where you're going, you might miss it.

Good Luck! It's worth the strange journey...

CommuniKay said...

Thanks for the tips. The trip does involve a number of transfers, that's for sure.

Peter Nadarasika said...

At the Amsterdam train station, ask a counter attendant for a ticket to Kröller-Müller Museum and they will give you train, bus and entry ticket for one price. You still have to find bus stops etc, but you will be ready. Try to find the times for the bus in advance. It is worth the journey and the cycling through nature without the stress of Amsterdam's cycle routes is blessed !