It was with great anticipation that we planned our trip to Wassenaar. It is not often that a new contemporary art museum opens, in a newly designed building. Hosting the largest privately owned art collection in the Netherlands, the Caldic Collection, this could become one of my favorite exhibition spaces, next to the likes of museum De Pont. The building, designed by Kraaijvanger architects, is inspired by Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and the swiss Fondation Beyeler pavillion.
It would also give us a second chance. Eight years ago we saw Leandro Erlich‘s swimming pool on display in New York‘s PS1. An exhibition policy made it impossible to take any photos. A hurdle still too common in this age of social media marketing.
Situated in the Voorlinden estate in Wassenaar, the museum forms a slender, geometric contrast to the 1912 villa closer to the park entrance. Inside, it’s a lot taller than the oblong exterior suggests and there is ample exhibition space beside the more or less permanent installations by Turrell, Erlich and Serra.
One of the first gems we encountered were Roni Horns colored objects, almost man high, that look like large sweets, or some sort of water containers. Looking down into them they function as lenses, the top surface distorting their inside height just like water does. At closer inspection they turn out to be made out of solid glass.
While some rooms allow you to focus on the art inside, other spaces and corridors offer generous views of the surrounding estate.
Although it might not be the most conceptual installation in the exhibition, I can’t help but love the playfulness. It’s just so well executed. An extra bonus is the fully operational mini elevator on the way down into the pool.
One of the semi-permanent installations in the new museum is Open Ended, one of Richard Serra’s signature steel structures. Visitors can watch the piece being installed onto its own foundation in a special video room. Even though the dimensions are what can be expected from an installation by Serra, there is a surprisingly spacious corridor through the structure. It is one of his most interactive pieces, one in which the weight of the installation is more present than ever.
Even though the pavillion knows how to create different rooms for different parts of the exhibition, there is a lot of depth to the building. Long views, all the way through the structure, are always just around the corner.
And even beyond the walls of the pavillion, art continues. Surrounding the building is Piet Oudolfs sea of flowers, surrounded by lawns and grass hills.
Museum Voorlinden is a great addition to dutch contemporary art spaces and well worth a visit. The North Sea is only a 2 kilometer walk through the dunes of nature park Meijendel away.