In 1969, Maarten and Reina van Bommel-van Dam, living in Amsterdam, give a collection of modern art, comprised of over 1,100 objects, to the city of Venlo on the condition that the council houses the collection in a museum, and finds a suitable home for its founders. This gift eventually leads to the opening of the first museum of modern art in the province of Limburg in 1971.
MAARTEN & REINA VAN BOMMEL-VAN DAM The original collection that was handed over in 1969 contains works of art that, however different each character, have one thing in common: they truly belong to the collectors. They were the ones who acquired the pieces at exhibitions, auctions, galleries, and workshops, and who, on their continued search for personal experiences, let themselves be seduced by each individual work. This could be anything from an abstract painting by Kees van Bohemen to an Ibo mask by the Nigerian Mmwobond, from a still life by Amsterdam-based Maria Vos to a woodcut by Hokusai, or even an iron assembly by Frans de Boer-Lichtveld. The couple has never collected using a certain system. The transfer of the collection in 1971 also meant the active collecting was taken over by the city of Venlo as well. But even then, the Van Bommels did not stop their collecting activities, and thus, in 1984, the private collection that had grown to the size of over 400 pieces was accomodated at the Van Bommel van Dam Foundation. A collection that was given to Venlo city as a loan, and that was to be added to the gift from 1969.
EXPANSION OF THE ART COLLECTION At the start, the procurement policy was primarily aimed at artists from the primary collection. After the opening of the museum, director Lei Alberigs, and his successor Thei Voragen, expanded the collection that was built up in Northern Holland; they acquired art from the COBRA movement, the informal art, the ZERO movement, and the material painting art. They managed to collect a qualitatively strong subcollection by, amongst others, Armando, Bram Bogart, Edgar Fernhout, Jan Schoonhoven, and Jaap Wagemaker, who can be seen as special in the Netherlands due to their completeness and the presence of early work. They, furthermore, also invest in a wider and more complete representation of contemporary visual art from Limburg. Especially under Voragen, the distinctive subcollection of post-war and, predominantly, Limburgian painters growed a lot, with Pieter Defesche, Jef Diederen, Ger Lataster, Lei Molin, and Pierre van Soest as its most notable contributors. Successor Rick Vercauteren also viewed expanding the collection as one of his main tasks, and continued with the collection areas of the original collection as his inspiration. Today, the purchasing policy is still mainly focused on Dutch painting and works on paper, always keeping the existing collection in mind. Cohesion is created between different parts of the collection thanks to the long-term focus on artists who are actively engaged with society and who are commited individuals with their own distinct visual language and hand. Limburg is expressly not forgotten. There is a growing attention for discerning representatives from the younger generations, and current developments in the visual art world. The photography subcollection is growing substantially as well. In the meantime, the area in which art is collected has expanded towards Germany, and, more moderately so, Belgium.