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Discover Amsterdam
Meetings and Conventions
Live, Work and Study
24H Zuidoost, Street art at Heesterveld Creative Community
Image from Bas Uterwijk

Outdoor art in Amsterdam

With more museums per square metre than any other city in the world, Amsterdam isn’t lacking on the art front. But there’s plenty more to discover beyond the walls of a museum. Take a stroll through any of the city’s character-filled neighbourhoods, and you’ll find sculptures, murals, installations, and curiosities to spark your interest. Political statement pieces, touching testaments to history, and futuristic works of contemporary art are all part of Amsterdam’s fascinating and diverse outdoor art scene.

City Centre: History and Activism

Streetart @ Kleine-Gartmanplantsoen, near Leidseplein.
Image from Pauline Arkesteijn

According to the Talmud, the Jewish scripture, a person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten. The Stolpersteines, a public art project started in 1992 by German artist Gunter Demnig, was established to prevent this forgetting. Each brass stone is inscribed with the name of a Holocaust victim and placed outside the home where they last lived. While the stones have been placed city-wide, the Plantagebuurt or ‘Jodenbuurt’ (Jewish Quarter) just east of the city centre has the highest concentration of these stumbling stones. Wander over to this area and reflect on these moving tributes to lives lost at the hands of Nazi occupation.  

Right on the ever-energetic Leidseplein is Diversity in Bureaucracy, a large-scale hyper-realistic mural by Amsterdam-born artist Judith de Leeuw. This comment on the necessity of equal opportunities featuries ballerinas surrounded by bureaucratic documents. Take a moment for critical reflection right in the hubbub of the city centre.

Image from Jannes Linders

The famed Rijksmuseum is known for its expansive art collection, but visitors often forget to check out the museum’s surrounding public gardens. An art hotspot in its own right, the curated gardens are full of remarkable pieces including a permanent collection of classic statues and sculptures, as well as changing exhibitions. Designed by Rijksmuseum architect Pierre Cuypers, whose vision was to create an open-air museum, this garden is an oasis in the busy inner city.

NDSM: the home of graffiti

The former NDSM docklands across the River IJ have become a lively cultural area brimming with artistic expression. The giant mural of Anne Frank titled Let Me Be Myself by Eduardo Kobra smiles down on you the second you step off the free ferry from Amsterdam Central Station). Along with countless murals, artists’ residences and studios, the neighbourhood is famous for graffiti art, with new pieces emblazoning sheds and shipping containers almost weekly. And don't miss STRAAT - an entire indoor museum dedicated entirely to street art and graffiti.

West: sculptures and murals

Foodcenter Markthaal Keith Haring graffiti street art mural
Image from Caecilia Rasch

Amsterdam’s parks are filled with eye-catching creations. Don’t miss (you won’t be able to) the supersized puppy sculptures peeking over the bridge on Postjesweg in Rembrandtpark. These playful creatures are the work of Marjolijn Mandersloot, who also designed the sleeping rabbit made of artificial grass on top of the roof at Nieuw Bibliotheek (new library) Almere Buiten.

If you missed the sold-out Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum last year, fear not. This brand new mural on the corner of Eerste Schinkelstraat and the Amstelveenseweg recreates the iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring painting by Johannes Vermeer. This contemporary interpretation by artist Roelof Schierbeek was a neighbourhood initiative that pays homage to the Dutch master. While the original masterpiece is back at the Mauritshuis in The Hague, you can still check out Schierbeek's rendition right here in Oud-West.

Oud-Zuid: iconic sculptures

An original Picasso sculpture is available for all the world to see in a sunny corner of Vondelpark. Though often (incorrectly) interpreted as a fish, Figure découpée l’Oiseau is a bird sculpted in the Cubist style. The sculpture was donated to Amsterdam by the artist himself through his connection with Stedelijk Museum director Willem Sandberg. The Woodcutter was last spotted in its natural habitat in 2019, though it’s a treasured icon much loved on social media. The tiny bronze figure cutting through a tree branch was previously located in the small gathering of trees near Leidseplein, known as the Leidsebosje. 

Oost: Neighbourhood Transformations

Apartment buildings surrounding the Platanenweg in Amsterdam Oost were the canvas for ten large-scale murals in 2019. Installed as part of a street art festival, the series titled If These Walls Could Speak are a popular attraction showcasing the talents of Dutch and international artists. The 10 by 15-meter facades of these apartment blocks were transformed into colourful paintings that reflect the diverse and exciting spirit of the city.

Nieuw-West: open-air museum

Nieuw-West is home to the Street Art Museum Amsterdam – an open-air art museum displaying works by street artists of international acclaim. Established nearly a decade ago as a community-based eco-museum, Street Art Museum Amsterdam is an NGO that uses street art as a tool for dialogue between locals and visitors. Dotted among the urban sprawl, discover a collection of more than 300 artworks, from tiny graffiti pieces to monumental murals. Visitors can access a map online for free and explore the collection on their own.

Zuidoost: a rising scene

Street art tour at Heesterveld Creative Community during 24H Zuidoost 2022.
Image from Koen Smilde

Amsterdam Zuidoost has a lively art scene, which includes Creative Community Heesterveld. These artists’ residences and studios are housed within an iconic building painted in bold zig-zag stripes. Zuid-Oost is also home to plenty of eye-catching street art. Check out street artist Dalata's mural on Heesterveld 73, an initiative from community builder and Bijlmer local Eva de Klerk, who sought to transform the area into a thriving art space.