Museum Stories

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen: Staff Picks

Ania Kaczynska 23 January 2023 min Read

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is located in the heart of Rotterdam, a Dutch city well known for its bold, modern architecture and seafaring history. Its vast collection covers the history of Western art from the medieval period to the modern day, a result of over 173 years of collecting. Although the museum building is currently undergoing a major renovation, its collection is still available to view at other museums and at the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen—the world’s first publicly accessible art storage facility. Thanks to our partnership with Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen we had the unique chance to interview people working there and ask about their favorite pieces from their collection. Read their staff picks here!

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen: Staff Picks

Greta by Suzie Robertson

Bram Donders | Curator

Suze Robertson, Portrait of a young girl (‘Greta’), 1922. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

Suze Robertson, Portrait of a young girl (“Greta”), 1922, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Courtesy of the museum.

“One of my favorite works in the collection of Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is the painting Greta by Suze Robertson. At first glance, the small painting appears mainly dark and gray, but if you look longer at the work, it comes to life. In rough, coarse strokes, the girl with her yellow dress and the red blush on her cheeks emerges. Robertson often painted the model Greta, but in this painting, the girl is completely stripped of all context, so all the focus is on the contemplative.”

The Mandrill by Oskar Kokoschka

Quinten de Klonia | Security Coordinator 

Oskar Kokoschka, The Mandrill, 1926. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

Oskar Kokoschka, The Mandrill, 1926, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Courtesy of the museum.

“This is such a wonderful work. I can almost feel the wild and untamed energy coming from the painting. In my experience, apart from the story of the artist, the combination of colors is a pleasure for the eye.”

Il Trovatore by Giorgio de Chirico

Bianca Sallons | Guide and Location Coordinator

Giorgio de Chirico, Il trovatore, c. 1924. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

Giorgio de Chirico, Il Trovatore, c. 1924, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Courtesy of the museum.

“In 2014 I wrote a song about this piece with my musical partner for the ART Rocks competition. We even got the opportunity to perform the song in the museum. The work, especially the figure portrayed by De Chirico, immediately inspired me to write my lyrics, which for me started with the sentence J’excist a cause de vous. I felt a strong connection with the feeling of loneliness that sometimes comes with “being an artist.” Among other things, converting both the desired and unwanted catharsis into a presentation can sometimes drain me despite the fact that it is nourishing. It even gives me the feeling of living a life, where giving and receiving are often not in balance.”

Grey, Orange on Maroon, No. 8 by Mark Rothko

Esmée Verheijen | Shop Manager

Mark Rothko, Grey, Orange on Maroon, No. 8, 1960. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

Mark Rothko, Grey, Orange on Maroon, No. 8, 1960, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Courtesy of the museum.

“To me, it’s difficult to pick a favorite work from the collection, because there is so much choice. We have a collection of more than 150,000 objects, but this work by Mark Rothko always touches me. I am a big fan of Rothko because of the combination of abstraction, color, shape, and size. The longer you look at it, the more complex and fraught it becomes. My background is in design, so I find it interesting how such an abstract work can still trigger an emotion; and that you can feel the story of the artist himself.”

Deadpan by Steve McQueen

Gianni Antonia | Curator in Training

steve mcqueen museum boijmans

Still from Steve McQueen, Deadpan, 1997, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands. Artlyst.

“Steve McQueen’s Deadpan is undeniably impressive. Three minutes and fifty-two seconds of silent film that couldn’t speak louder for a Black experience that is still relevant today. I can watch its repetitive scenes endlessly. The film stars McQueen himself standing in front of a house as its facade falls down on him continuously. He barely moves but the look on his face says it all. I get quite emotional looking at it. Even though he survives each time, by standing exactly in its open window, to me, it shows the tension between ‘a window of opportunity’ and ‘a set trap’ hard to escape from.”

You can access the museum’s website here and find their digital collection here!

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