NDSM: home of grafitti art
The former docklands across the River IJ have been converted into a lively cultural area that abounds 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 ferry (a free service located behind Amsterdam Central Station). Along with countless murals, artists’ residences and studios, the NDSM neighbourhood is famous for graffiti art with new pieces emblazoning sheds and shipping containers almost weekly.
Amsterdam West: sculptures in parks
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 Postejeweg 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. A similarly unexpected animal delights visitors to Erasmuspark in the form of marble polar bear sculpted by Italian artist Simona Vergiani.
Known locally as The Blue Violin Player, a sculpture arrived anonymously on Tweede Marnixplantsoen in the 1980s. Residents convinced the City of Amsterdam to leave it in place after attempts to remove it.
Famous works in Oud-Zuid
An original Picasso sculpture is available for all the world to see in a sunny corner of Vondelpark. Though often (incorrectly) interpreted to be a fish, “Figure découpée l’Oiseau” is a bird sculpted in 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 that is 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.
Activist art in Amsterdam Oost
Apartment buildings surrounding Platanenweg in Amsterdam Oost were the canvas for 10 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.
Heading towards the IJ River, the AIDS monument Living by Numbers designed by Jean-Michel Othoniel depicts a giant abacus with hand-blown glass beads. The sculpture represents counting down to a future free from AIDS and is a tribute to everyone affected by the disease – caregivers, medical staff, patients and their loved ones.
The spirited centre
The Spuistraat and narrow Wijdesteeg near the shopping streets of the centre were historically associated with urban subcultures and communities of squatters. Many of the squatting buildings have since been repurposed, although there are still glimpses of their colourful murals and graffiti art which remain.
A hidden masterpiece awaits down the rabbit hole in the Alice in Wonderland-themed garden of the ANDAZ Amsterdam Prinsengracht hotel.
A rising scene in Zuidoost
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.
There’s also the Street Art Museum Amsterdam – an open-air art museum displaying works by street artists of international acclaim. Book a walking tour to learn more about the activism behind the artworks.
Explore more of Amsterdam’s art and culture or visit these hidden gems.