Van Gogh Museum’s Next Director Will Be Mauritshuis Leader, in Major Move Atop Dutch Museum World

Emilie Gordenker

Emilie Gordenker.


The next director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam will be Emilie Gordenker, an American-born curator who for more than a decade has helmed the masterpiece-filled Mauritshuis museum in the Hague, which is located about 33 miles to the southwest.

At the Mauritshuis, Gordenker oversaw a renovation from 2012 to 2014 that doubled the square footage of the museum and brought into the collection key works by Pieter Lastman and Willem Buytewech. (That renovation may be fondly remembered by some in San Francisco, Atlanta, and New York, as it provided an occasion for Mauritshuis holdings like Johannes Vermeer’s ca. 1665 Girl with a Pearl Earring and Carel Fabritius’s 1654 The Goldfinch to visit the Legion of Honor, the High Museum, and the Frick, in those respective cities.)

Gordenker is taking the place of Axel Rüger, who left the Van Gogh Museum this past June to become director of the Royal Academy of Arts in London. He had held the position at the Amsterdam institution, which draws more than 2 million people a year, since 2006.

“After 12 wonderful years at the Mauritshuis, it is time for a new challenge,” Gordenker said in a statement. “I am absolutely thrilled to move to the Van Gogh Museum. It will be an honor to lead such a successful museum and I look forward to building on that success in the future.”

Prior to being tapped to lead the Mauritshuis in 2008, Gordenker was senior curator of early Netherlandish, Dutch, and Flemish Art at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh. She was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and earned her Ph.D. in art history at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, with a specialty in 17th-century Dutch and Flemish work.

She starts in the director’s role at the Van Gogh Museum February 1, 2020.

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