5 of the best art stops in Amsterdam, Holland

Nicknamed the ‘Venice of the North’, Amsterdam has been recognized as one of the most romantic and scenic cities in Europe. The floating city not only offers idyllic canal rides, Michelin-starred restaurants and picturesque parks but also a rich cultural history. From the 1600s, Dutch artists from Van Gogh to Mondrian have produced some of the finest and most renowned works in the world. Holland’s capital boasts its artistic wealth, with museums dedicated to almost every kind of art throughout the city.

Amsterdam

Here’s our list of top Amsterdam art spots:

Van Gogh Museum

No trip to Amsterdam is truly complete without a visit to the Van Gogh Museum. Though Van Gogh spent many of the most notable years of his career and life in France, the young artist was sent to live in Amsterdam with his uncle in 1877, and even applied – but failed – to study theology at the University of Amsterdam. The city is now home to the largest collection of Van Gogh’s works, housed in three geometrical buildings: the Rietveld Building (1973), the Kurokawa Wing (1999) and the New Entrance Hall (2015). The museum carefully addresses the speculation surrounding the private life of Van Gogh, such as this year’s exhibition ‘On the Verge of Insanity. Van Gogh and his Illness’, amalgamating letters, paintings and drawings from the final 18 months of his life. Keep an eye out for upcoming exhibitions on the artist’s life, his influences and his fellow impressionists.

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Allard Pierson Museum

Many things come to mind when thinking of Amsterdam: winding canals, evening bike rides, charming architecture; artefacts from the worlds of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome do not immediately spring to mind. However, the Dutch capital in fact holds an impressive collection of ancient art-objects dating from 10,000 B.C. to 1000 A.D. in the Allard Pierson Museum. The museum is part of the University of Amsterdam and derives its name from the university’s first professor of Classical Archaeology. It has progressed massively from Pierson’s plaster cast collection, with today’s museum experience being enhanced by the curators’ incorporation of digital technology. The Allard Pierson truly is an interactive experience, with touch-sensor scale models, original colour projections onto artefacts and an open archaeology lab where visitors can get involved with the work in progress.

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De Nieuwe Kerk

De Nieuwe Kerk – meaning the ‘New Church’ – has become one of Amsterdam’s unlikely top art spots. The 15th century church has witnessed the evolution of the artistic city from its prime location in Dam Square. Being home to the Royal Palace, Dam Square was once the heart of political and monarchical administration. Today, it is a tourist hotspot with its countless bars, restaurants and shops – all framed by the never-ending queue of Madame Tussauds. De Nieuwe Kerk stands firm as a symbol of Amsterdam’s rich cultural history, juxtaposing its surrounding landscape of modern, hedonistic tourism. This juxtaposition continues within the church itself, as throughout the year the Nieuwe Kerk becomes a versatile host for exhibitions celebrating national and international as well as ancient and modern art. This year saw the hand of one of the Roman Emperor Constantine’s colossal statues visit the Netherlands, alongside other renowned imperial works from the Vatican and Capitoline museums in the exhibition ‘Rome. Emperor Constantine’s Dream. Art Treasures from the Eternal City’. Until February 2017, De Nieuwe Kerk will reflect on the life of Hollywood starlet Marilyn Monroe, presenting personal items from her Californian residence to mark her 90th birthday.

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Foam

Foam photography museum was established in 2001, making it somewhat of a newcomer to Amsterdam’s historic art scene. Though lacking in the age and standing of its artistic competitors, the museum more than makes up for this with its consistent exhibition of photographic masterpieces. Foam has proven that it is not afraid to embrace its modernity, defying the city’s unspoken cultural convention of focusing on the works of the Dutch greats, such as Van Gogh and Rembrandt. The museum offers multiple exhibitions at one time, presenting both contemporary and historical works from renowned photographers and young, emerging artists. Iconic photographs with the unmistakable erotic character of fashion photographer, Helmut Newton, were part of Foam’s 2016 exhibition, ‘Helmut Newton: A Retrospective’. From the 15th December 2016 – 8th March 2017, the museum will host the over 40 years of work from the acclaimed Japanese photographer, Hiroshi Sugimoto.

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Electric Ladyland

Unfortunately, Amsterdam’s emerging modern art scene is often overlooked by tourists eager to cram in the traditional art spots into their short-stay. One of the city’s most innovative art museums, Electric Ladyland, has become a favourite amongst young travellers, but is a quirky and fun treasure that is not to be missed by any age group. Situated in the vibrant district of the Jordaan, Electric Ladyland is the first museum of fluorescent art in the world. The small, intimate museum is also unconventional in its approach to its visitors, encouraging visitors to participate in and engage with the art, rather than merely view it. Nick Padalino, the owner of Electric Ladyland, provides a passionate tour lasting under an hour with an education on the science and history of fluorescent art – perfect for a light afternoon activity after a heavy morning of sightseeing.

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Pontus Silfverstolpe is Co-Founder of Barnebys.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Ellenor Davis says:

    Amazing Museums and Art expositions in Holland. I will definitely visit them next year. Thank you for the article.

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks so much for the article. The last time I was in Amsterdam with my family we waited to get into the Van Gogh museum but gave up as we were behind too many people to get in. Must go again though!

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