After seven months and a 20-million-euro ($26.5-million Cdn) renovation, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has reopened to visitors.

The museum, which houses the largest collection of Vincent van Gogh’s work,  reopened Wednesday with an exhibit titled Vincent at Work that focuses on the Dutch painter’s methods, including his paints, brushes and other tools.

The renovation brought the museum up to the Netherlands fire safety standards, but also introduced more colour, according to museum officials.


The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam had a $26.5-million renovation. (Koen Suyk/AFP/Getty Images)

"The big change visitors will notice is the colours on the walls. Now we have darker colours all over the building. So it is blue, yellow and grey," said head of collections Marige Vellekoop.

"There is much more to see, much more Van Gogh paintings, many more drawings, letters, artist materials, things that are usually not on view at The Van Gogh Museum," she added.

The museum shows two versions of his famous Sunflowers painting, one on loan from a museum in London. They are hung on either side of a portrait titled La Berceuse, following instructions the artist left in surviving letter, which also is on display.

Among the 145 paintings and sketches on display is a self-portrait of the artist, behind a canvas, holding a brush and palette.

Confined to asylums for periods in his life, the famously tortured artist sold only two paintings in his lifetime.  

Dr. Paul-Ferdinand Gachet, the physician who treated him in the months before his 1890 suicide, preserved his work, including an actual palette and paints Van Gogh used that are part of the collection of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.  

Vellekoop said Van Gogh’s paintings and sketches show how hard he worked to improve his craft in the final 10 years of his life, experimenting with perspective and colour.   

"Van Gogh's star was starting to rise, and there had been an exhibition of his work," she said. "Dr. Gachet saw his quality, or perhaps he had some vision of the future."

The Van Gogh museum gets millions of visitors annually and has introduced an internet reservation system to allow visitors to book in advance.  

With the completion of the Van Gogh museum Amsterdam's three biggest art museums are all open for the first time in years.

The Stedelijk, or city museum, known for modernist art, reopened in September and the Rijksmuseum, with works by painters such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer and Jan Steen, opened in April after a 10-year renovation.


With files from the Associated Press