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Van Gogh on the Move

by Amsterdam.com
​Amsterdam’s most visited museum has closed for 7 months due to renovation, but the Van Gogh masterpieces it housed will still be on display at another facility.

Although the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has closed for seven months to undergo a series of major renovations, the world famous contents of the museum will still be available for viewing during that time at a different museum across town. Moving 75 pieces of the Dutch painter’s most famous multi-million dollars works has turned out to be a huge task in itself as teams of curators prepared the works for transport to the Hermitage, an Amsterdam satellite of the Russian state museum.

The process began with removing the alarm tags from behind the collection of Vincent Van Gogh masterpieces, and then removing them from the museum walls. Museum Director Axel Ruger said he wasn't worried that the paintings could be damaged or stolen before they are returned next year and said of loaning the paintings to another museum that “We do this all the time, but never on this scale.” Ruger added “I cannot really say much about the security measures that are being taken, because you will understand that we need to keep those confidential in order to safeguard the security of the transport.”

Each painting was loaded onto a felt-covered trolley and taken to a workshop where it was be wrapped in protective insulation and packed into hard, rounded carrying cases known as"turtles" that are resistant to both physical impacts as well as temperature and humidity fluctuations. To avoid unnecessary attention, each case was labeled with a code number instead of the name of each individual work. Working with military precision, the teams loaded the cases into yellow vans that were then driven to the Hermitage along a secret route under tight police escort.

The Van Gogh Museum was Amsterdam's most popular museum when it was open. The facility proved more popular than both the Rembrandt-rich Rijksmuseum and the Anne Frank House museum by attracting over 1.6 million visitors in 2011. The museum is expected to draw even more visitors after reopening on April 25, 2013. The Van Gogh’s closure comes just as the nearby Stedelijk city museum reopens after a similar renovation project. The temporary Van Gogh exhibit at The Hermitage will run through mid-April until the Van Gogh Museum reopens.

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