The Van Gogh Museum Has Tapped the Longtime Director of the Mauritshuis to Lead the Venerated Amsterdam Institution

The American academic joins the museum after 12 years at the Mauritshuis.

Emilie Gordenker. Photo: © Frank van den Burg.
Emilie Gordenker is the new director of the Van Gogh Museum. Photo: © Frank van den Burg.

Emilie Gordenker has been named the general director of Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, one of the Netherlands’s top institutions.

After 12 years of leading the Mauritshuis in The Hague, which has a world-renowned collection of Dutch Golden Age paintings, the American art historian and curator will head to the Dutch capital to take her new post in February 2020. She succeeds Axel Rüger, who left the Van Gogh Museum in June to become the CEO and secretary of the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

The Van Gogh Museum will provide a special opportunity and new challenges. It touts the largest collection of works by the Dutch painter worldwide, with more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings, and nearly every single one of the artist’s letters. Around 85 percent of its 2.2 million visitors are international tourists; by comparison, the Mauritshuis, which is dedicated to a period of art history that ends in 1648, saw 416,000 visitors in 2018.

“Emilie is an experienced museum director with an extensive national and international network, who will be able to develop, together with the museum’s staff, a clear long-term vision for the Van Gogh Museum,” Jaap Winter, chairman of the supervisory board of the institution, said in a statement.

At the Mauritshuis, Gordenker initiated experimental digital projects such as “Meet Vermeer,” which was run in cooperation with Google Arts & Culture.

Van Gogh is having a big year in Europe. “Making Van Gogh: A German Love Story” opens at the Städel Museum this month, following on the heels of “Van Gogh and Britain” at Tate Britain. There is also a major Van Gogh show at the Noordbrabants Museum in the Dutch city of Den Bosch focused on his “inner circle,” which cuts against the widely believed idea that the artist was highly isolated.

When she starts her tenure, Gordenker will oversee ongoing exhibitions including “In the Picture” (a show of self-portraits and portraits by other 19th- and early 20th-century painters) and “Van Gogh’s Most Beautiful Letters” at the Mesdag Collection in The Hague, a partner of the Van Gogh Museum.

Renée Jongejan has been named the acting director of the Mauritshuis until a successor is found.


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