The history of Museum van Bommel van Dam dates back to 1967, the year in which Maarten and Reina van Bommel-van Dam gave their considerable art collection to Venlo Municipality. The original collection is heterogeneous. Part of it reflects the art available at the time it was collected: the fifties and sixties of the twentieth century. The main component is painting and, within this, a definite preference for abstract-expressionist tendencies.
The collection contains thousands of paintings, drawings and prints, as well as a number of sculptures. Most were from the hands of Dutch twentieth-century artists. In addition, the museum has an extensive collection of ethnographic art.
Originally, the purchasing policy focused on artists from the existing collection. In the course of the years, the museum has added to the collection with work from the Cobra movement, informal art and material art. The presence of a number of core figures such as Melle, Armando, Edgar Fernhout, Kees van Bohemen and Jan Schoonhoven lends the collection a specific character. Several of them can, through their completeness and the presence of often early works, be considered as exceptional for the Netherlands.
Other examples are: Shinkichi Tajiri, Karel Appel, Gerrit Benner, Eugène Brands, Constant, Corneille, Jaap Nanninga, Lucebert, Anton Rooskens and Theo Wolvekamp; Rudi Bierman, Herbert Fiedler, Aad de Haas and Arie Kater; Bram Bogart, Wim de Haan, Anton Heyboer and Jaap Wagemaker.
For Museum van Bommel van Dam, it was clear from early in 1971 that a representative reflection of Limburg visual arts should be formed within the museum’s collection. The Van Bommels were the first private collectors to purchase works by Ger Lataster and Aad de Haas was one of the very few artists from Limburg within their collection.
Of the generation of Limburgers who left the region after the war and of which the Amsterdam Limburgers are the most significant representatives, the museum now has gathered a respectable collection of works: Ger Lataster, Jef Diederen, Lei Molin, Pierre van Soest and Pieter Defesche.
Museum van Bommel van Dam, today
The museum profiles itself especially with its range of exhibitions, for which works are regularly purchased for its own collection. The exhibition programme can justifiably be described as wide; attention is paid to drawings, paintings, art photographs and video art. Above all, attention is devoted to presentations based on the permanent collection.
The museum also sees as one of its objectives providing young artists with a stage. To an increasing degree, there is attention for distinctive representatives from the younger generations and current developments in the visual arts and the sub collection photography is growing steadily. The field of collection is widening in the direction of Germany and, to a lesser extent, Belgium.