Art and culture in Oud-Zuid
The crown jewel of Oud-Zuid’s cultural scene is undoubtedly the Museum Quarter, where the Rijksmuseum presides, flaunting 800 years of art history. The Stedelijk and Van Gogh Museums are just around the corner, but don’t try to fit all three in a single day; there is simply too much to see. You’re spoilt for choice elsewhere in the neighbourhood with the Royal Concertgebouw, Vondelpark Open-Air Theatre and various cultural festivals taking place in the district throughout the year.
Housed in a characteristic building that resembles something like an enormous shiny bathtub plopped down in the middle of Museumplein, Stedelijk's collections of encompass over 90,000 works. On the ground floor, the Stedelijk Base permanent exhibition brings together a 700-strong rotation of pieces by Van Gogh, Picasso, Warhol, Mondrian, Rothko, Lichtenstein, Appel and Kusama - to name just a handful of eye-catching names - all positioned in dialogue with art and design objects. Outrageous, witty, thought-provoking and always challenging, the temporary exhibitions are dedicated to experimental curation showcasing individual artists and movements from the early 20th and 21st centuries.
Van Gogh Museum
Endlessly reproduced on fridge magnets and tea towels, the world continues to be enchanted by the colour palette and brush strokes of Vincent Van Gogh. This sleek museum offers a refreshing take on the revolutionary Dutch painter’s life and work, displaying the world’s largest collection of original paintings, illustrations and personal letters for a unique glimpse into his world. Alongside renowned pieces like The Potato Eaters, the ever-changing exhibition schedule showcases impressionist masters including Monet, Pissarro and later artists who were influenced by Van Gogh.
A must-visit for all art-lovers, the Rijksmuseum spans 800 years of art history with masterpieces by the likes of Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen, Frans Hals and Johannes Vermeer as just the tip of the iceberg in the extensive collections. Highlights include Rembrandt’s The Nightwatch and Cuypers Library, the biggest and oldest art history library in the Netherlands with a beautiful spiral staircase that begs to be photographed. The neatly manicured lawns of the gardens are free to visit, dotted with statues under the shadow of the imposing museum building itself, which, with its blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles, is an architectural triumph. For a final, quintessentially Dutch twist, the Rijks is also the only museum in the world that you can cycle through.
The Royal Concertgebouw
This renowned concert venue, acclaimed for its exquisite acoustics and top-quality programming is the stomping ground for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Completed in 1888, the impressive building overlooking Museumplein has been the centre for classical music in the Netherlands for well over a century. It houses three beautiful performance spaces: the grand Main Hall for orchestral blockbusters, the Small Hall for quartets and chamber music, and the Choir Hall for more intimate recitals.
Every year at the end of August, Uitmarkt rings in the start of the new cultural season, bringing together the city’s theatre, music, book and film lovers with more than 300 performances spread across 30 stages. The festival includes a stellar programme of fringe acts that veer towards the avant-garde, variety performances and workshops for kids as well as classical, jazz and improvised music. Everything is free to enjoy and language is always no problem. A delicious range of food trucks are always on hand with tasty treats at the ready.
Vondelpark Open Air Theatre
Since the 1970s, Vondelpark has been an epicentre for culture and social life in the city with many theatre shows, gigs and parties organised there. Every summer the open-air theatre in the middle of the park loads up its programme with a range of children’s performances, comedy, dance, opera, classical and pop concerts. A lot is going on every Saturday and Sunday from May until early September creating a great atmosphere with lots to enjoy for the whole family.
Located at the end of the Overtoom, OCCII is an independent and not-for-profit music venue that, like several of Amsterdam’s cultural centres, credits its development to the squatting movement of the late 80s and 90s. The colourful Russian folk designs on the tall doors at the front of the building hint to its original purpose as a stable and tram depot. In the programming, you’ll find a range of alternative musical genres including noise, hardcore, acoustic, rave, electronic and punk acts.