Amsterdam for photography lovers
Amsterdam is quickly evolving into a real hotspot for photography in Europe. Not only is the city home to internationally-renowned museums like Foam, but there are a plethora of first-rate galleries dedicated to the medium. Throughout the year, the city also hosts major events such as World Press Photo and Unseen Photo Fair, attracting photography lovers from around the world. Here are just a few places for you to get your photography fix in Amsterdam.
Foam is an internationally renowned museum that exhibits all genres of photography in a beautiful canal-side setting. As well as displaying a wide variety of works, it acts as a creative hub where photographers can meet and participate in forums and symposiums. Drop by for special tours, lectures and discussions, films and other activities. Foam also publishes its own international photography magazine (Foam Magazine), available in book and magazine stores around the world.
Amsterdam’s first photography museum, Huis Marseille is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown of the city’s photography scene. Experience stunning photography laid out across opulent period rooms complete with ceiling paintings, stucco work and mega helpings of marble. The varied exhibition program changes an average of four times a year showcasing major names and rising stars from around the world. The tranquil garden is the perfect place to catch some fresh air after you’ve blown your budget in the specialist bookshop.
Unseen Photo Fair
Each September, international crowds flock to Westergas for the Unseen Photo Fair, one of the major annual events in the cultural calendar. Hosted within the unique shiny metal cylinder of the Gashouder - a former gas factory in the centre of Westerpark - the world’s most exciting photography galleries and cutting-edge artists are brought together for a weekend-long event. Along with the exhibition, you can expect a variety of talks, competitions and tours.
The Ravestijn Gallery
With a luminous exhibition space at the docklands just to the West of Central Station, The Ravestijn Gallery is a rich addition to Amsterdam's thriving contemporary photography scene. Spread through the spacious halls, you’ll find solo presentations by some of the most curious and provocative international photographers working today. The gallery puts on several exhibitions a year to explore ambitious new perspectives in image-taking and the multifaceted forms the medium can take.
World Press Photo Exhibition
Every year, World Press Photo returns home for its flagship exhibition, specially designed for the space of De Nieuwe Kerk, a 15th-century church in the middle of Dam Square. Witness the most powerful, moving and influential images taken by the most talented press photographers working around the world today. These photos generally tend to pack a punch so be sure to bring some tissues with you!
Haute Photographie is a boutique fair that takes place in February at the Rotterdam Art Week and in September in Amsterdam. The event is centred around a group exhibition featuring works by the grandmasters from the history of photography to the youngest and most exciting young talents working with the medium today. The show brings together a select group of national and international artists.
In 2020, Amsterdam’s photography fans were thrilled to welcome one of the most well-respected Swiss galleries to their new space in De Jordaan. Bildhalle curates an expert selection of established names from the 20th century alongside a host of emerging international talents. Delve into exhibitions celebrating a fantastic range of photographic styles, from street photography to conceptual figurative shots and genre-smashing abstract work.
Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen
Established in 2001, Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen is known for exploring both traditional genres such as landscape and portraiture as well as documentary photography. The artist roster includes a wide variety of emerging and established photographers from around the world. Their cosy gallery space in De Jordaan puts on a range of exhibitions throughout the year and is well worth a visit.
Galerie Caroline O’Breen
Galerie Caroline O’Breen regularly showcases mixed media and photo-based works from artists and photographers looking for crossovers with other art disciplines. The gallery has a strong focus on female artists and artists engaging with environmental topics. Just up the street from Wouter van Leeuwen and Bildhalle, a visit here makes for an engaging afternoon of gallery hopping in De Jordaan.
Founded in 2004 by the well-regarded collector Roy Kahmann, Kahmann Gallery embodies all that is photography. While the original concept was to focus purely on Dutch vintage photography, the scope has broadened over time to include international photographers and younger talents. The gallery is also a supporter of new talent and has created Kahmann Gallery LAB to coach these artists on their first steps into the commercial art world.
Established in 1983 by multi-genre professional musician-turned-art dealer Martin Rogge, Flatland is one of Amsterdam’s most innovative galleries. Whilst the focus is on photography, the gallery also represents artists working with film, installation, sculpture and drawing - or a crossover of these mediums with photo-based practises.
Throughout the year, Amsterdam’s public parks and urban spaces are regularly transformed into stunning outdoor galleries. For instance, Foam regularly transforms the public square at Mercatorplein into an open-air photo exhibition that’s freely accessible to all. Each work is blown up to an intimidating scale so that tiny details can be appreciated, whilst scannable QR codes provide viewers with more information about the photographers. Keep an eye on our Weekend Guide for updates about what’s on near you.
Photography and film are closely entwined and so there’s no better place to learn about the crossover of the two mediums than at Eye Filmmuseum. Situated on the northern bank of the IJ, just opposite Central Station, Eye’s striking architecture quickly transformed it into one of the city’s modern cultural icons. Pop in for cutting-edge exhibitions, talks, screenings and more.