Twenty international students recently took a daytrip to the Kröller-Müller museum, organized by student society Aegee-Delft. Delta tagged along for some sightseeing.
Beautifully set in one of Holland’s largest national parks, the Kröller-Müller museum is an hour and a half drive away from Delft. Beside the museum and its sculpture garden, the park also houses a museum on life underneath the Earth’s surface, a visitors centre and architecturally interesting buildings such as the Hunting lodge and ticket offices.
A group of some 30 TU students went on an excursion to the park. The majority of the foreign students taking part had already met each other before - if not on a previous excursion or international party then at the weekly Aegee organized Wednesday evening meetings for foreign students at Café De Ruif.
“I’m a regular visitor to De Ruif”, says Alexander Mikhaylow, a Russian exchange student currently gaining practical experience at the faculty of Aerospace Engineering. “What I like about this trip is the Kröller-Müller museum and the bicycles you can use to ride around the grounds, but mainly I go to be with my friends, and because it’s a cheap way to see things.” Zuzana Czechmanova agrees, although she doesn’t think 25 euros is that cheap. “This is an easy way to go sightseeing in Holland. It’s organized by Dutch people, they know their country better than we do, so it should be interesting”, says the Czech geodetic engineering student. “I also like Van Gogh and this excursion seems to be a nice combination of art and nature.”
Upon arrival at the park, everyone grabbed a white bicycle. There’s around 1700 of them in the park and they are free of charge. The 15-minute ride to the visitors centre provides a good view of the parks natural beauty: hills covered in woodland, heath and sand drifts. Spanish architecture student Oriol Hostench Ruiz was amazed: “I didn’t expect to see this sort of landscape in the Netherlands. There’s actually hills and pine trees!”
The visitors centre houses an exhibition on the history of the area, its animals and landscape. You can guess what footprints belong to which animals, inspect different types of tree-bark and see mounted butterflies. In the center’s basement is the Museonder, which can be entered by descending a rather dark slope that makes you aware of the fact you’re going underground. Inside the Museonder it’s pleasantly lit and architecturally interesting. On display are things like fossilized animal bones laid bare, pyrite from the Muschelkalk formation and sections through layers of the earth. It’s an interesting museum and the size is especially good: you can see it all in 15 to 30 minutes. The international students didn’t seem too impressed however.
Aegee-Delft’s Foreign Affairs Committee (Fact) organizes several excursions for Erasmus and foreign MSc students. This was their fifth excursion of the year. Fact also organizes a ‘Tour de Delft’ twice a year and international dinners. “We usually promote our activities through our meetings at De Ruif, but we also have a mailinglist”, explains Adriaan Scheltema-Beduin, a member of the committee, while sipping a coffee.
Another bicycle trip led us to the Kröller-Müller museum, where two guides awaited us. Unfortunately they both decided to focus on the sculpture garden instead of the museum, as it was apparently too crowded inside. Guide Jojanneke took us past sculptures by Barbara Hepburn, Rodin and Henry Moore among others and talked enthusiastically – in rather poor English - about the underlying artistic ideas. Luckily, she eventually showed us some of the museum’s highlights as well, including works by Van Gogh and Mondriaan.
“The stories she told about the paintings certainly made them much more interesting to look at”, said Czechmanova. Sara Sancho, a Spanish exchange student studying mechanical engineering liked the museum, but said she “wasn’t too fond of the sculpture garden, because the outside tour was too long.” Having been on a previous Fact excursion to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, ‘Van Gogh overload’ didn’t seem to bother the foreign students. “I still wanted to see his paintings here”, says Lela Bakiu from Albania.
When the guided tour was finished, everyone went their own separate ways. Some cycled a 10 kilometer circuit through the park, stopping at the ‘Sint Hubertus’ Hunting Lodge. Others dwelled around the Kröller-Müller or enjoyed the sunshine on a park bench. The Hunting Lodge, designed by famous Dutch architect Berlage, made an especially good impression. “The views of the house were stunning, as were its surroundings”, remarked Hostench Ruiz. “And the weather was great.” At the end of a warm and sunny afternoon the group returned to Delft, tired but contented.