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In praise of our donors

This museum could not exist without the generosity of many people and organizations. In the Netherlands, the main force behind museums may still be government, but contributions from individuals are constantly growing in importance, as is the role of the business sector.
The Kröller-Müller Museum was created by the generosity of the Kröller-Müllers, whose inspiration was the visionary idea of erecting a lasting monument for the community in the form of a museum of modern and contemporary art in the natural setting of the Hoge Veluwe, in the heart of Gelderland. Since the museum's opening, however, many other people have helped it on its way. What I would like to highlight here, specifically, is the phenomenon of privately donated works of art.
It is always exciting and moving when people offer us works of art, and even though we weigh our decisions with the utmost care – as a museum like ours must, given the clearly thought-out principles that guide our acquisitions – it is always a treat to converse with potential donors. In the past few years alone, the Kröller-Müller collection has been greatly enhanced by both direct and notarized donations, by the finance ministry's tax benefit scheme for those who leave valuable works of art to state institutions, by specific legacies, and by other means. If you visit the museum today, you will see numerous works – by such artists as Vincent van Gogh, Piet Mondrian, Theo van Doesburg, Gino Severini, Auguste Herbin, and Marta Pan – that were just put on display recently, after they were acquired from people who care deeply about this museum.
When such works are added to this museum's collection, they become part of the public domain; the donors demonstrate their community spirit and emphasize the value and significance of culture. Furthermore, the Dutch authorities have become more cooperative in recent years, creating tax benefits for donors, so that selfless gifts now often bring considerable benefits to the givers themselves.
The most recent gift to the museum came from Annelies and Jan Vriens, who donated their collection of works by Bart van der Leck, which they had assembled with passion and discrimination over a period of years. Lucebert is another great favourite of theirs, and they had previously donated the works of his that they possessed to the Cobra Museum. Bart van der Leck, having been a favourite of Helene Kröller, was already one of the artists emphasized at this museum, but the Vriens donation sheds a fascinating new light on several underappreciated aspects of his oeuvre. Until May 17 2009, a selection of these works will be on display in the museum's print room alongside earlier acquisitions.
I am deeply grateful to these donors, who are a shining example of the modern way of giving in that they understood what they had to offer and brought their collection to just the right places. Museums need this type of support, which keeps them on their toes and adds to their appeal. Would you like to learn more? If you’re thinking of donating a work of art to the Kröller-Müller Museum, or offering any other form of support, then I cordially invite you to request our brochure, Schep een blijvend monument. In de voetsporen van Anton en Helene Kröller-Müller [Create a lasting monument. In the footsteps of Anton en Helene Kröller-Müller] , which contains more information about the numerous options and the unexpected advantages of giving. Hats off to our donors!

Evert van Straaten
January 2009

The image shows the tile Goat by Bart van der Leck, a gift from Annelies and Jan Vriens.