Amsterdam has long been regarded an artist’s paradise; a veritable treasure trove for appreciators of wonder, beauty and curiosity. Boasting more than 50 traditional galleries, museums and vast exhibition spaces, the city effortlessly blends the classical and contemporary, bringing together old masters and art lovers.
A visit to Amsterdam is your opportunity to dive head first into the art world, via the work of names you’ll know, and those you’ll struggle even to pronounce; here, art is art, regardless of who it’s by.
The best art in Amsterdam
Amsterdam Art, a non-profit organization that aims to bring paintings, sculptures, prints, installations and performance pieces to the masses, is your guide to the city’s creative. With so much to inspire, from both the past and present, you’ll need all the assistance you can get to make the most of your Amsterdam art break.
Amsterdam has links to some of the most illustrious artists in history; it’s where the home and workshop of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn between 1639 and 1656 can be found, and museums and galleries are dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh and Johannes Vermeer. A weekend could easily be whiled away in these inspirational places alone.
Just yards away from the works of these well-known names you’ll find examples of street and urban art created by modern artists looking to tell their own story, and event spaces hosting installations of every kind. So many artists have made their name in Amsterdam, or taken up residency in the city in search of inspiration; who knows whom or what you’ll discover.
The contemporary art scene in Amsterdam is a vibrant one. The leafy Jordaan neighborhood is home to many small, independent galleries; here, art exists to speak its mind, spark debate and inspire.
Other galleries and exhibitions well worth a visit include Droog, an exciting studio space, Galerie Fons Welters, which opened in 1988 to support of new talent, the experimental Upstream Gallery, Grimm Gallery, where new works by established artists are exhibited, the world-famous Stedelijk Museum, Rijksmuseum, and Foam, the photography museum.
In Amsterdam, art is nurtured both on and off the canvas; EYE Film Museum is a great example of alternative media and architecture coming together to create something special.
Amsterdam Art Weekend is a program of events that enable visitors to experience every aspect of the local art scene; held each year in November, the event is highly recommended for anyone who’s not quite sure where to start.
Of course, Amsterdam isn’t a city solely for the art lover, but for the artist too; its many shining examples of renaissance architecture, striking canal system, inspiring bridges, street cafés, and cosmopolitan population are a feast for the paintbrush or lens.
Indeed, anyone hoping to capture a moment, immortalize a landscape or create characters to fall in love would do well stay a while in Amsterdam, and sample the views across the Flower Canal – or Bloemgracht, Reguliersgracht, Oosterpark, Vondelpark and the Waterland nature reserve.
Such landscapes are a treat for the artist, while the exhibits to be found in the city’s museums and galleries will provide the inspiration if you’re looking to discover hidden talents.
Amsterdam: A travel guide
It takes a little careful planning to make the most of Amsterdam. While the city boasts an array of luxury hotels, boutique bed and breakfasts and cozy lodgings, it’s the many self-catering apartments in Amsterdam that allow travelers the freedom to explore to their hearts’ content; come and go as you please, taking in moody morning walks and coffee shops in your own corner of the city.
Self-catering enables travelers to truly explore the culinary side of Amsterdam and seek out the city’s tastiest treats and freshest produce, without feeling obliged to patronize on-site restaurants.
There are many ways to traverse this labyrinthine city. Walk along the canals, cycle across paved streets, or take the metro, tram or bus; it’s highly unlikely you’ll need to hire a car unless you’re traveling beyond the city’s limits. Besides, who knows what you’d miss if you did?
Budget for visiting museums, galleries and workshops, although much of the city’s art is free to access. The city’s climate is affected by the North Sea to the west, but the summers and winters are mild in comparison to southern Europe; pack for a city break, taking plenty of layers with you, and you won’t go far wrong.
Amsterdam is art; a place where aspiring talent rubs shoulders with the old masters, and where anyone can be inspired to pick up a paint brush, pencil or camera. Walk the streets, talk to the people, and allow the galleries, museums and exhibitions spaces to speak to you.