Rijksmuseum Twenthe

History of the Museum

Rijksmuseum Twenthe was founded through the initiative of the Twente textile baron Jan Bernard van Heek, who wanted to have his painting collection housed in a new state museum in Enschede. It is thanks to the persistence of his family after his death that the museum was actually built. In 1930 the museum was opened on the Lasondersingel. The basis of the museum was formed by some 140 artworks, principally paintings from the collection of Jan Bernard van Heek, from the Middle Ages up to and including the 19th century. 

New benefactors: Scholten and Van Heel

Through the previous century the collection was considerably expanded and has now about 8000 objects from the 13th century to the present day. Private benefactors have played an important role in this growth. In the 1960s the collections of paintings from the 17th and 19th century of textile manufacturers J.B. Scholten and M.G. van Heel were added to the museum collection. The Van Heel collection also contained a few hundred pieces of 17th and 18th century Delft pottery.


Van Kempen and Martens-Mulder

In the 1990s, art and applied art from the 18th century was added as a collection area to the museum. An important acquisition in this respect was the estate of J.M. van Kempen with hundreds of prints, drawings, pamphlets and books. Recently the collection of silver from the 17th and 18th century of the Martens-Mulder Foundation was given on permanent loan to the museum.


Levisson and the Art & Project / VBVR Depot collection

The donation by collector Karel Levisson of hundreds of drawings and prints has been an invaluable addition to the late 19th and 20th century collections of the museum. The most considerable expansion of the collection has been in modern art from 1965 with the recent addition of the Art & Project / VBVR Depot collection, with some thousand works by artists from this period who have a national and international reputation. 


Building and inner garden

The museum building was commissioned by the Van Heek family and designed by Karel Muller and Anton Beudt. Karel Muller has been called the father of the Twente country houses. He designed many villas for manufacturers in the region. In Hengelo he built the garden village, Het Lansink. The museum has later seen several expansions in the style of the original architecture. 


Expansion in the 1990s

From 1994 to 1996 the museum underwent a complete renovation. Ben van Berkel designed a new exhibition hall and a museum cafe. Specific features of the building were also improved and the building was completely climatised. The museum garden was redesigned by landscape architect Lodewijk Baljon. He received the prestigious Award of Merit 2004 from The American Society of Landscape Architects for his design of the museum garden.