Amsterdam has always been an important and cultural European city for centuries but the reasons why certainly differed over the years. Once upon a time, in the 1600s it was because of its association with art thanks to classicist painters like Rembrandt, Lievens and Vermeer settling in the Dutch capital. Fast forward 400 years and it still has a pivotal role to play in the world and history of art, one that you can certainly enjoy finding out about while staying in Amsterdam.
By far the best place to start exploring the history of art in Amsterdam is at the Rijksmuseum, which has several rooms dedicated to the most famous and influential Dutch painters and the collection of original Delft china is an unexpected charm. Though “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” is to be found down the road in Utrecht, many of Johannes Vermeer’s other iconic paintings are housed in the Rijksmuseum accompanied by an interesting explanation about how one of them was lovingly restored.
On the other side of Museum Square from the Rijksmuseum is the Van Gogh Museum, which is another crowd pleaser, so if possible, visit during the week to avoid the crowds. However, it’s still worth wading through floods of tourists for a chance to get up close to so many recognisable works of art crafted by such a complicatedly fascinating man.
To complete a worthy trio of classical art museums head slightly east to Rembrandthuis, where you will learn why Rembrandt is revered for how he and his contemporaries changed traditional portrait painting techniques. This house where he lived isn’t just a museum, it’s an insight, where he worked, how he lived and what he saw in the Amsterdam that surrounded him from 1639 to 1658. For other more traditional art and painting exhibitions be sure to also find out what’s currently showing at Hermitage Amsterdam.
If you prefer art in the shape of photographs then don’t leave Amsterdam without popping into Foam. With regularly changing exhibitions from some of the most renowned film and digital photographers, this is one of the best photography galleries in Europe and possibly beyond.
Amsterdam is also full of galleries showcasing modern and contemporary art, from sculptures to street art and among the best are ArTicks, Galerie Rademakers and Reflex Amsterdam. Another venue where you can find up to date offerings from local, national and international artists is The Garage, a canal-side gallery hosting temporary modern art exhibitions. As secretive as it is cool, you need to sign up to the newsletter in order to be in the know about their next event.
Art isn’t just to be found in museums and galleries; keep your eyes open around the streets of Amsterdam for the city’s equivalent of Banksy. Laser 3.14 is a street artist who spray paints thoughtful and random lines from his own poetry around the city.
For a true overdose of artistic Amsterdam ensure you time your visit with one of the city’s many art fairs and events, like the visual arts festival Kunst RAI Amsterdam in June or Art Amsterdam in September.
To book your own art filled escape to Amsterdam, click here to browse the range of holiday apartments, and feel like a local.