Amsterdam is renowned for being one of the most important cultural hubs in Europe, especially when it comes to modern art and design. In this area, one of the key focal points is the Stedelijk Museum, which is set to reopen to the public on 23 September 2012 following extensive renovation and expansion work. This museum holds claim to one of the most famous collections of modern art in the world and regularly hosts acclaimed temporary exhibitions that reflect trends in the contemporary art world.

Alongside the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam is home to de Appel Arts Centre, W139 and the Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (a smaller project platform for international contemporary art). Other must-sees for lovers of photography and multimedia art include Foam Photography Museum Amsterdam, Huis Marseille and the Netherlands Media Art Institute. In addition, Amsterdam’s rich gallery scene presents a vibrant selection of contemporary artworks by Dutch and international artists. And in the areas of the applied arts, the city is the home base of the internationally-renowned design firms Droog and Moooi.

Stedelijk Museum’s spectacular new wing

On 23 September 2012, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam will reopen its doors on the Museumplein. Only this time, the Stedelijk is bigger, thanks to a new extension, built directly onto the Museumplein. This has been nicknamed ‘the Bathtub’ by locals, thanks to its eye-catching design by Amsterdam architecture bureau Benthem Crouwel. Its spectacular canopy creates a new covered courtyard, also shielding the glass façade of the museum from too much sunlight and unwanted heat. On the ground floor, visitors will find the main entrance, restaurant and museum shop. The first floor houses a large exhibition space, parallel to the ‘Erezaal’ in the old building. And under the new roof is the largest exhibition hall in the Stedelijk, measuring 1,100 square metres. Another interesting flourish by the architects is that the elevator from the basement to the first floor is housed inside a transparent tube. From the ground floor, you can access the basement via a regular staircase or lift.

The opening exhibition is titled Beyond Imagination, a new project that is set to showcase the works of 20 artists. While these artists will be from both the Netherlands and abroad, all of the exhibited artists now work in the Netherlands. Following this, the long-awaited retrospective exhibition Mike Kelley: Themes and Variations from 35 Years is set to premiere on 14 December 2012, before travelling onwards to a number of other art museums in the United States.

The new Stedelijk Museum is simultaneously a classic museum and a contemporary art platform. The original museum, dating from 1895, has been completely restored and now includes more exhibition space than ever before. This building will still showcase the museum’s permanent collection, but newly reorganised and presented in ever-changing formations of paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photography, new media, applied arts, graphic design and typography. The Stedelijk Museum has one of the most important collections of modern art and design in the world, featuring renowned names such as Appel, Chagall, De Kooning, Gilbert & George, Judd, Kiefer, Kienholz, Malevich, Matisse, Mondrian, Newman, Picasso, Rietveld and Warhol. Its collection is on par with international peers, such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Tate Modern in London and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. More information:
- Stedelijk Museum, Museumplein

Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam

Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (SMBA) is a project space operated by the Stedelijk Museum in the Jordaan district of the city. SMBA organises a continuous series of exhibitions that showcase the works of new talents. In addition, it hosts many related activities, such as lectures, presentations and artist residencies. SMBA relates new local art to international contexts, also integrating the fact that Amsterdam is a centre for people and cultures from all corners of the world. More information:
- SMBA, Rozenstraat 59

de Appel Arts Centre

For a number of decades already, de Appel has stood alongside the Stedelijk Museum as one of the most important centres for contemporary art in Amsterdam. On 12 May 2012, it opened the doors of its new gallery and project space at Prins Hendrikkade 142, launching with the exhibition Topsy Turvy. The central theme of this is the ‘masquerade around carnival’ and adopting a different identity. This multimedia collection includes paintings, films and performances, and is on display until 23 September 2012.

Within its new location, de Appel has various exhibition halls, a library and bookshop. The building has also had an eventful past: behind its 18th-century façade, it previously housed one of the first pop venues in Amsterdam, the renowned Fantasio, and later the National Pop Institute. More information:
- de Appel Arts Centre, Prins Hendrikkade 142


W139 is a space for the presentation and production of contemporary art in the heart of Amsterdam. It was founded in 1979 by a group of young artists who were seeking an alternative to museums and commercial galleries to exhibit their work. Over the course of 30 years, it has evolved from an anti-establishment group of squatters into a professional platform for contemporary art. Its programming includes both Dutch and international artists, who are specifically invited to make use of the space to create and display new works. W139 describes its purpose as ‘providing room for risks’ and thus fulfils a unique roll in the Dutch art world. Every four years, the board of W139 appoints a new director. Since 2010, German artist and curator, Tim Voss, has served this role. More information:
- W139, Warmoesstraat 139

Foam Photography Museum Amsterdam

Foam Photography Museum Amsterdam exhibits all genres of photography and regularly presents exhibitions that receive broad public attention. Not solely focussed on works by established photographers and historical art, Foam is also an active platform for upcoming talents. Via exhibitions, publications and discussions, Foam is a key meeting point and inspiration for photography enthusiasts, photographers, picture editors and designers.

Foam is celebrating its 10th birthday throughout 2012. One of the highlights of these celebrations will be a retrospective of works by photography icon Diane Arbus, running from 26 October to 15 January 2013. More information:
- Foam, Keizersgracht 609

Huis Marseille, Museum for Photography

Named after the 17th-century canal-side house within which it is situated, Huis Marseille was the first photography museum in Amsterdam. Since opening in 1999, Huis Marseille has provided a diverse programme of exhibitions showcasing contemporary photography. As well as works by Dutch artists, the museum has displayed photographs by key artists from countries including Japan and Africa, with a particularly strong emphasis on the visual side of the medium. The museum has also been growing its own collection of contemporary photography.

Huis Marseille also has advanced plans to extend the museum into the building next door. The extension would allow for new exhibitions with its permanent collection as a starting point. In its new form, the museum would feature numerous exhibition halls, a lecture hall, a photography bookshop, a workshop room, a dark room and an extension of its library. More information:
- Huis Marseille, Keizersgracht 399-401

Netherlands Media Art Institute

The Netherlands Media Art Institute offers constantly-changing exhibitions of contemporary media art, using works from within and outside of its own collection. The institute hosts regular presentations, symposiums, film screenings and live experimental music performances. The museum’s collection features around 1,900 works, making it the largest collection of media art in the Netherlands. It also manages collections from de Appel, Lijnbaancentrum and the Instituut Collectie Nederland. All videos and installations from the collections can be viewed in the institute’s media library. The museum was formed in 1994 through the fusion of Time Based Arts and Montevideo. Founded in 1978, Montevideo was an internationally-successful gallery specialising in electronic and video art, exhibiting works by artists such as Bill Viola, Gary Hill, Shelly Silver and Gabor Body. More information:

Note: The Netherlands Media Art Institute will close at the end of 2012. It will then collaborate with SMART Project Space:
- Netherlands Media Art Institute, Keizersgracht 264

Contemporary art galleries

Amsterdam is home to countless art galleries that specialise in exhibiting recent works by Dutch and international artists. A tour of the galleries – many are within the Canal Ring or Jordaan districts – provides a fascinating overview of the latest trends in the visual art scene. Below are just some of the examples of leading galleries and their specialities.

Contemporary art, housed in a complex with five other galleries. Until 13 October: Transparent Research by the Russian artist Natalia Pershina-Yakimanskaya.
Lijnbaansgracht 317, +31 (0)20 638 0480

Galerie Paul Andriesse
International contemporary art from home and abroad, including artists such as Marlene Dumas, René Daniels and Thomas Struth.
Westerstraat 187, +31 (0)20 623 6237

Annet Gelink Gallery
Young artists with a focus on photography. Until 13 October: Look ed! featuring vintage photographs by Rineke Dijkstra, Marlene Dumas and Marijke van Warmerdam.

Laurierstraat 187-189, +31 (0)20 330 2066

Van Zoetendaal Photography
Contemporary photography. At the Unseen Photo Fair, the gallery presents works by WassinkLundgren, Koos Breukel and Roy Villevoye (in collaboration with Motive Gallery).
Oude Schans 67 f, +31 (0)20 624 9802

Fons Welters
Fons Welters is primarily renowned for its sharp eye for young talent. Until 13 October: photographic works by Paulien Oltheten and Femmy Otten.
Bloemstraat 140, +31 (0)20 423 3046

Galerie Pien Rademakers
Visual arts, design and fashion. Recently moved to a beautiful location on the KNSM Island, its opening exhibition features photographer Carli Hermès.
KNSM Laan 291, +31 (0)20 622 5496

Eduard Planting Gallery
Fine art photography. Until 20 October: Lilith in da House, featuring colourful self-portraits by Henriëtte van Gasteren (aka Lilith).
Eerste Bloemdwarsstraat 2, +31 (0)20 320 6705
Wim van Krimpen
Wim van Krimpen has been respected for decades as one of the most headstrong museum directors in the Netherlands and even has his own gallery for contemporary art. Until 6 October 2012: works by photographers Paul Kooiker and Helena van der Kraan.
Hazenstraat 20, +31 (0)6 2491 0174

Alex Daniels – Reflex
Presents both established and young contemporary artists, with a particular accent on new photography.
Weteringschans 79 A, +31 (0)20 627 2832

The gallery of artists/graphic designers Esther Koch and Hans Bos, who share a fascination for the surreal and who love art that combines beauty with ‘uneasiness’. A group exhibition will run through September and October 2012.
Eerste Anjeliersdwarsstraat 36, +31 (0)20 681 4567

More information about galleries in Amsterdam: (in Dutch) and


Amsterdam is home to a variety of internationally-renowned designers and firms, with their work exhibited frequently in galleries and studios. To what extent do Dutch designers differentiate themselves from their international peers? One common answer is their re-examination of everyday objects. Other frequently-recurring characteristics: pragmatism, single-mindedness and unpretentiousness.

Many Dutch industrial designers are or were associated with Droog Design, a group established in 1993. Its initiators were jewellery designer Gijs Bakker and design critic Renny Ramakers. Designers associated with Droog include: Richard Hutten, Ineke Hans, Hella Jongerius, Jurgen Bey, Job Smeets, Nicolette Brunklaus and Claudy Jongstra. Since 2004, Droog Design has also provided space for exhibitions and presentations, as well as selling products. They are situated in a beautiful historic building at Staalstraat 7b. More information:

Since 2001, another group of Dutch designers goes by the name Moooi, led by Amsterdam designer Marcel Wanders. This group includes industrial designers such as Edward van Vliet, Piet Hein Eek, Joep van Lieshout, Li Edelkoort, Maarten Baas, Monkey Boys, Dum Office and Jorrit Kortenhorst. Other renowned designers, such as Jasper Morrison, Rosse Lovegroof and Matti Klenell, have also designed for Moooi.

Since 2010, the group has presented works in the Moooi Gallery in the Jordaan (Westerstraat 187), part of a former school building. Here they present an overview of the designers who are part of the group. More information:

Amsterdam, September 2012

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