Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam


Innovation. Thrill. Progressiveness. Controversy. Distinctiveness. A collection

of random associations? Not really, for actually all of the abovementioned

ideas will instantly spring to your mind after a visit in Amsterdam’s Stedelijk

Museum – the place to be if you’re looking for some quality excitement with

contemporary art and design as the main theme.

The Museum


around the picturesque district of the Oud-Zuid, passing by the beautiful

Vondelpark and moving south along the Van Baerlestraat marking the border of

the Museumplein, you are bound to notice a very unusual structure ‘hovering’

over the neighborhood. To make things clear, we’re talking about a giant

bathtub-like building which is a home to the new wing of the Stedelijk Museum

Amsterdam (dubbed simply as ‘Stedelijk’) and apart from all the controversy

surrounding its design (by Benthem Crouwel Architects), one thing is for sure –

it cannot be missed. Given that, it seems that such exteriors make up for a

great setting to interiors full of ‘floating’ walls, big and airy spaces,

modern arrangements and the ‘content’ of the museum, i.e. the rich collection

of forward-thinking and memorable works of art by the likes of Vincent van

Gogh, Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol, Bruce Nauman, Yves Klein, Donald Judd or

Gilbert & George, just to name a few; with the new building opened to the

public on 23 September 2012, the museum had over 95,000 visitors, so let that

(rapidly growing) number be a recommendation on its own.

As for the

museum itself, the name ‘Stedelijk’ can be translated into ‘city-like’ and with

its distinguished architectonic features, as well as with the fine examples of

art to be found inside, it offers a fantastic opportunity to experience the old

and the new in one place. It was originally founded in 1874 and opened its

doors in 1895 after its old building was completed following the design by Adriaan

Willem Weissman, the city architect of the time; this is the red-bricked

building right next to the ‘bathtub’, finished initially with a neo-renaissance

façade decorated with several sculptures and modernized, enlarged and

simplified over the years. Still, it bears some visible trademark traits

reminding of the influential Dutch cultural heritage and providing a nice

contrast to both the new state-of-the-art wing, as well as to all the

exhibitions to be discovered inside.

The cultural offer

As you

might expect from an institution like this, the offered program moves with the

times and the featured exhibitions change periodically, providing the visitors

with opportunities to experience many different forms of art, combining the

auditory and the visual to create something truly notable.


If we’re

talking about the exhibitions, the ones that are currently on display include

one devoted to Mike Kelley (open until 1 April 2013) and the other entitled

Number Fourteen, Home by Guido van der Werve (from 25 January to 28 April

2013). The former is organized by Ann Goldstein (Stedelijk’s director) in

cooperation with Mike Kelley Foundation of the arts to celebrate the artistic

output of the artist said to have defined his era creating a rich legacy

comprising sculpture, paper art, painting, performance, installation, video,

music or photography; it features a broad scope of his works, including a mix

of politically and philosophically involved installations (

Monkey Island, The Sublime, Plato’s Cave), personal projects

involving use of contemporary media (the


John Glenn Memorial Detroit River

Reclamation Project), as well as many other innovative works of art. The

latter, in turn, features a fresh video project by Holland’s own Guido van der

Werve, an enterprise encompassing multiple perspectives, including the artist’s

childhood memories, tales of his inspiration figure – Alexander the Great and a

record of participation in a grueling triathlon of 1,500 kilometers. Heavily

inspired by Chopin, van der Werve – also a pianist – pays a tribute to the

composer by creating a classical score to the video and by including places

crucial to Chopin’s life in the movie. Yet another piece of work exploring the

themes of alienation and melancholy, so often featured in other works by van

der Werve.


The museum

offers a rich variety of programs. One of them is called ‘Forum’, involving

globally- and locally-known artists, critics, academics and curators delivering

their latest findings and publications; it is a great opportunity to

participate in animated discussions during key-note lectures, in a company of a

highly-regarded academic environment. Another program operates under the name

of ‘DO IT!’ and features the most cutting-edge art and design forms, including

audio installations, artist performances and combinations of fashion, design

and modern visualizations. Another type of programs goes by the name of

‘Performance’ and offers an exceptional occasion to see international artists

staging their concepts using the interiors of the museum as a stage – something

truly noteworthy. Apart from that, you might also witness many

differently-themed film shows, book launch events, music events and many more,

depending on the day, month and special features organized by the museum staff.


As far as

the Stedelijk collection is concerned, there is plenty to choose from,

actually, ranging from the classics by Van Gogh or Cézanne (

La Berceuse;

Bouteilles et pêches), Marina Abramovic’s dramatic

Freeing the Voice video, vivid and

touching creations by Karel Appel (


uiltjes, gordijnstof, Vragende kindern) or Gijs Bakker’s design

masterpieces (

Flow, halssieraad), as

well as many other photographs, paintings, installations, items and other sorts

of artistic heritage by those who have contributed to the shape of today’s

progressive art.


Apart from

the above, you might expect the museum to hold talks and lectures (

Confrontations: ‘Scandalous!’ devoted to

the issue of scandal in art and life, on 18 January or

The Rationale of the Collection by Boris Groys, on the matter of

collecting works of art, on 20 January), film screenings, discussions, book

presentations or music events, each of them featuring fine guest appearances

and an active group of participants. Become a part of the cultural movement,

choose the topic of your interest and join in!

The museum

is found on Museumplein 10 and opens daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., except

for Thursdays (10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.). However, as the program and

exhibition agenda change on an ongoing basis, make sure to visit 

or call 020 573 2911 to learn about the current offer on display and the

ticket prices.