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Rijksmuseum Rembrandt Night's Watch painting
Image from Koen Smilde

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.

Stedelijk Museum

Stedelijk Museum contemporary art collection
Image from Gert-Jan van Rooij

Housed in a characteristic building resembling an enormous shiny bathtub plopped down in the middle of Museumplein, Stedelijk's collections 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

visitors to the Zonnebloemen
Image from Jan Kees Steenman

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.

Moco Museum

For the perfect introduction to some of the contemporary and modern art world's icons, Moco has long established itself as one of Amsterdam's most popular art museums. Situated at Museumplein in the historic Villa Alsberg, with an adjacent sculpture garden, explore a mesmerising display of street art, sculpture, photography, installation works and much more. Alongside various changing temporary exhibitions which showcase rising stars and recent masters, the permanent exhibition has a particular focus on Banksy, and the gift shop is the ideal place to pick up articles from your best-loved artists.

Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum Cuypers library
Image from Charlie Red

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

Image from Jan de Ridder

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.

ARTZUID

artzuid
Image from artzuid

Amsterdam Zuid transforms into a hive of open-air art-viewing activity for the ARTZUID Sculpture Biennale, which typically runs every two years from May to October. Follow the 5km route through the city’s leafy streets and parks to find over 50 works of art in the most surprising of locations. The sculpture trail starts at Station Zuid and continues via Minervalaan and Apollolaan all the way up to Museumplein. The 9th edition will take place in 2025.

Het Documentaire Paviljoen

Cinema seats outside the exterior of the IDFA Vondelpark documentary pavillion.
Image from Coen Dijkstra

After much anticipation, IDFA (the world-renowned International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam) opened its beautiful permanent location at Vondelpark in Spring 2024: Het Documentaire Paviljoen. Documentary lovers can discover a year-round programme ranging from creative films on the big screen to immersive works and installations, workshops and talks to school screenings.

Vondelpark Open Air Theatre

Vondelpark Openlucht open-air theatre classical music
Image from Vondelpark Openlucht 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.

OCCII

Colourful folk designs on the frontdoors of the OCCII concert and gig venue on Amstelveenseweg
Image from Verity Seward

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 at 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.