Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller during WWII: 1940 – 1945
After the death of Helene Kröller-Müller in 1939, Sam van Deventer became the new director of the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller (the Kröller-Müller national museum). Together with curator Willy Auping Jr., he shares the responsibility for protecting the museum and the collection during WWII.
Relocation of artworks
Commissioned by Helene, the construction of an bomb shelter in a sand dune in the Veluwe started as early as 1939; but when the war breaks out, the work is not yet finished. On 22 July 1940, the entire collection is housed there. The works of art are packed in order of value and moved in small groups to the bomb shelter. Within a week, all the works are in a secure place, and the museum can close its doors.
In the last year of the war, the museum serves as an emergency Red Cross hospital. The patients are housed in the rooms in the Van de Velde wing. Jachthuis Sint Hubertus, Helene Kröller-Müller's country lodge, is the home for the nurses, and the service building is used as a maternity ward and warehouse.
Liberation and reopening
On 15 April 1945, the museum is liberated by the Canadians, who also helped to reinstate the art in the museum. 'It is interesting to think that it was Canadian troops […] who carried this collection out of the caves and painstakingly transported it to the museum where it could once more be hung for people the world over to see,’ said lieutenant colonel Gerald Levenston. The museum is officially reopened on 6 October 1945.
Sound piece by Susan Philipsz
On route to the shelter, the visitor is guided through the sound piece The Wind Rose by Susan Philipsz (1965, Glasgow).
Opening hours and admission prices
The bomb shelter is open from 19 September to 27 October 2019 from Thursday to Sunday, between 11.00 and 15.00 hrs.
Admission vouchers, including route map and brochure, are available from the museum’s reception desk. Please note: vouchers cannot be purchased at the bomb shelter itself.
Admission for adults (18 +): € 2.50 (including route map and brochure)
Children and youths from 0- 18 years: free.
If you are in possession of an admission ticket for the museum (day ticket, Museumkaart, BankGiro Lottery VIP Card, ICOM, Rembrandt Association Card), then admission to the bomb shelter is free. However, you must first collect your admission voucher from the reception desk in the museum.