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The Black Archives interior
Image from Zoë Zandwijken

Art and culture in the Oostelijke Eilanden

The repurposed buildings of Amsterdam’s Eastern Docklands area are teeming with cultural offerings. Along the waterfront alone you’ll find the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ the city’s contemporary concert hall, BIMHUIS the temple of modern jazz music and Mezrab, a storytelling hotspot. Elsewhere in the hood, exhibition spaces and venues are dedicated to contemporary art, classical music and architecture. And of course, there’s the National Maritime Museum - one of the city’s best-loved historical institutions.

Mezrab

Speaker storytelling on stage at Mezrab
Image from Mezrab

Settle into Mezrab's cosy floor cushions for a night of tall tales and real-life stories told by professional storytellers. This unique cultural centre, located in Pakhuis Wilhelmina in the city's eastern docklands, has grown into one of the best stages for spoken-word, improv and comedy in the city. The expansive venue also hosts a diverse array of exhibitions, dance parties and musical guests from around the world with a casual atmosphere that will make you feel right at home, no matter what's on the agenda.

Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ 

Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ classical jazz music concert with dance
Image from Muziekgebouw / Emilie Schfer

Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ is an internationally leading stage that excels in its inspirational and innovative programme of contemporary music and the related genres of classical, jazz, electronic pop music and world music. The spectacular building justifiably calls itself 'Amsterdam's Concert Hall of the 21st Century'. Throughout the year, the venue also hosts exhibitions showcasing work by internationally acclaimed visual artists. While you’re there, don’t forget to take in the fabulous view of the IJ from the Muziekgebouw Café.

Bimhuis

Bimhuis
Image from Govert Driessen

National Maritime Museum

Het Scheepvaartmuseum - National Maritime Museum - and the VOC ship.
Image from Eddo Hartmann / Scheepvaartmuseum

Offering endless entertainment for sea-faring families, The National Maritime Museum brings together a mammoth collection of maritime objects, not to mention a life-size replica of VOC Ship Amsterdam moored on the jetty outside - you can’t miss it. Start your swashbuckling tour with hands-on activities that illustrate life aboard a real 18th-century ship then marvel at paintings, models of ships, navigational instruments and maps which explain how Dutch sailors navigated the seas and how their travels impacted the world at large.

Museum Perron Oost

Museum Perron Oost exterior
Image from Museum Perron Oost

With a surface area of just 6 m2, Museum Perron Oost in the Eastern Docklands is perhaps the smallest museum in the world. In 1993, artist and designer Joep van Lieshout transformed the former cattle market area and railway tracks into a miniature park. Since 2013, the museum in the former supervisor's house has told the stories of local residents in the form of theatre, film, dance, music and visual art. The building is so small you can even see the exhibition through the windows.

Mediamatic

Mediamatic art centre greenhouse gardens
Image from Bas Uterwijk

Bold, groundbreaking, and always intriguing, this art centre has been creating installations that celebrate biotechnology, media and organic cuisine since 1983. You'll find an intriguing array of workshops, talks and special events on the agenda that might be anything from a cactus grafting masterclass with a local artist or a talk about making sustainable homes for pigeons. The on-site restaurant Mediamatic ETEN dishes out excellent vegan dishes with locally sourced ingredients, largely grown in the kitchen’s very own greenhouse.

The Black Archives

The Black Archives interior
Image from Zoë Zandwijken

This historical archive is one-of-a-kind in Amsterdam, creating a platform for inspiring conversations, activities and literature from (often overlooked) Black and other perspectives. The agenda encompasses exhibitions, public programmes and other educational activities based around the collections - including books, archival imagery and artifacts from Black Dutch writers and scientists. Frequently explored topics include race and racism, slavery, colonization, gender and feminism, social sciences and development, Suriname, the Netherlands Antilles, South America, Africa and more.

Pakhuis de Zwijger

Pakhuis de Zwijger Outside terrace
Image from Koen Smilde

Originally used as a warehouse for refrigerated goods, Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam's Eastern Docklands area now serves as a meeting place for culture fiends and creative networkers. The programme encompasses regular events, exhibitions and lectures, and amidst the meeting rooms, you'll also find a café, radio and television studios and multimedia workshop spaces.

Oosterkerk

This 17th-century Dutch Reformed church is located in one of Amsterdam’s many repurposed buildings, that underwent extensive renovations in the ‘80s. Today, Oosterkerk is the place to go for exhibitions, community events and monthly concerts courtesy of students from the Conservatory of Amsterdam. They tend to perform every first Tuesday (evening) and third Friday (14:30h) of the month and there is a matinee each third Saturday of the month at 15:00.

ARCAM

Museumnacht Amsterdam 2018 - ARCAM architecture centre by night
Image from Oscar Aukes

This architecture hub is situated in a striking building at Oosterdok and is the place to go for exhibitions, talks and debates about all things buildings. ARCAM is also the starting point for a fascinating 2-hour waterfront walk, led by a local architecture guide, where you can learn all about the current building projects in the area including their history, context and design. The tour ends at the iconic EYE Film Institute, where you can have a coffee or drink on the terrace, with a panoramic view of the river.