Case Study: The Van Gogh project: ‘’Van Gogh and I’’ (Nationwide, The Netherlands)

Stichting de Vrolijkheid, translated as Foundation the Joy, has created a series of workshops for youths who are staying in asylum centres, to make a collage in the style of Van Gogh. For this project, they also paid a visit to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and were given the opportunity by the museum to exhibit their works during the annual Museum Night of Amsterdam.


Stichting de Vrolijkheid currently has 67 locations across the Netherlands, where they organize activities for children, teenagers, young people and families staying in asylum centres. The workshops that the foundation provides vary in form and duration, depending on the resources available near the locations of the asylum centres. Each facility has its own project leaders who initiate different projects among the asylum centres nearby. The organization has multiplied over 20 years, starting from a small budget and one classroom. The foundation aims to provide a nice time for newcomers who had to flee their homes due to war, prosecution, and natural disasters.

Case Description

A group of youths, aged between 15 and 25 years old from the asylum centre in Gilze, located in the Van Gogh Natural Park, attended the so-called project ‘Van Gogh and I’’ by Sichting de Vrolijkheid. During this project participants were invited by the Van Gogh Museum to gain inspiration by the famous Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. During their visit, the attendees were given a tour of the museum and learned about the life of the painter and came aquatinted with his work. After the workshop, the participants were given lessons on how to make collages. Within two months the attendees were expected to finish a collage in the style of Van Gogh to exhibit in the Van Gogh Museum during the annual Museum Night in Amsterdam. Inspired by the life and work of Van Gogh participants were ought to choose one work of art, series or aspect that touched them to incorporate in their self-portraits. As starting point of their work, the participants chose a colour, feeling, face or story as a vocal point. The workshops were executed under the guidance of artist Nikki Nordman.


The supervisors of this project noticed a significant difference in the first collage attendees made versus their final product in which they incorporated the lessons learned by artist Nikki Nordman. The project contained high elements of creativity and resulted in more empowerment among newcomers as they gained more knowledge about Dutch history and were given a spotlight in the museum to present their artistic visions. This way newcomers are given te opportunity to create and explore a sense of belonging in their host country. Within two months participants and supervisors created a strong bond and therefore new relations contributing to a multi-perspective view on the world. The museum visit appeared to be a nice activity to be in a different environment to be amazed and inspired. Though the tour was a bit too difficult to follow due to the language barrier of some attendees, all participants were able to pick something that caught their attention as focal point of their self-portrays.

Relevance and Usability

As the winsome project wishes to find a way to make newcomers feel more welcome in their host country, this best practice shows that a spotlight in a museum to display visions or artistic creations of newcomers, contribute to gain a sense of belonging. The best practice also shows that a series of workshops embody more meaningful new relations as the attendees are given time to get to know each other.

Contact Information

Danny de Vlugt – project leader Stichting de Vrolijkheid


Elize Hautvast, Quiosq (NL)


Header photo by Yamaitrop Vioreenlack on Unsplash (fragment)