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Spring is on its way. Through the bright, cold winter light, the colours of a warmer atmosphere and trees in bud are starting to appear. The art in and around the Kröller-Müller Museum presents a different aspect in every season and that in itself makes it well worth returning again and again. Spring is perhaps the most beautiful moment to visit De Hoge Veluwe.
After 21 years in charge as director, I am now leaving the museum. Last year, more than 300,000 people visited the museum and many told of how surprised and inspired they were by the art and the way it is presented. I thank all our visitors and hope you will continue to arrive in large numbers.
I would also very much like to thank the museum staff. Their commitment, zest for work, resilience, their pride in the museum and their dedication to making the visitors’ stay enjoyable, are tremendous and admirable. Despite the shortage of personnel, an inconceivably rich yield of achievements has been realized in all areas of the museological field. Here, I wish to express my deep respect for the museum staff: people, I take my hat off to you!
The museum’s collection is phenomenal and our greatest attraction. Ever since Helene Kröller began collecting over 100 years ago, her successors have continued on in the same line, right up to the present day. In the past 21 years, that has also taken place under my direction and this will be the focus of attention in my farewell exhibition, entitled Longing for perfection. A wealth of famous and less well-known works of art awaits you in the spring, summer and autumn. We hope it has a surprising coherence, which invites you to take a wander through the museum and sculpture garden.
In recent years we have kept our eyes firmly fixed on a number of goals. Extending the collection with important works of art is one of them, but so is maintaining high standards in the condition of the museum buildings, the collection and the sculpture garden, not forgetting a healthy financial basis. Much attention has been focused on collaboration with other museums and on showing parts of our collection both nationally and internationally, thus going in search of people outside the walls of the museum. That resulted in a series of sometimes record-breaking exhibitions, such as two winters ago in Japan when more than 1.3 million visitors saw our Van Gogh paintings together with those of the Van Gogh Museum in Japan. At this moment alone, parts of our collection are on display in Genoa (Van Gogh), Maastricht (Visser collection) and Namen (Degouve de Nuncques).
Art is an important source of inspiration: it offers inner wealth for the individual and provides reflection and innovation in the broader society. As a visitor, I shall return to this art paradise on the Hoge Veluwe with great pleasure and in all seasons. I wish my successor, Lisette Pelsers, every success, enjoyment and inspiration in directing this wonderful museum.

Evert van Straaten
March 2012

Image: William Degouve de Nuncques, Hamlet in the snow, 1911