The Dutch port city of Rotterdam has gained immense popularity as travel destination in the past couple of years. This popularity is mainly due to the city’s continuous drive to change and innovate. Where Amsterdam sticks with its world-famous image of historic canals and narrow streets, Rotterdam is looking towards the future.
Street art in Rotterdam
Modern architecture is not the only thing that makes Rotterdam an interesting place to visit. It has a vibrant (underground) art scene and hosts some of Holland’s best art museums. I am happy to introduce to you the 3 most popular art museums in Rotterdam! Let’s get artistic.
Nederlands Foto Museum
With our smartphones and platforms like Instagram everyone today feels like a photographer. But there is a clear difference between photography and (really) great photography. A great photographer is able to capture that single moment where the pictures says more than a 1000 words, where one picture leaves you flabbergasted.
The Netherlands Photo Museum is one of those places where you are surrounded by the work of great photographers. I was astonished to notice how I got captivated by so many pictures. You watch the picture wondering what kind of scene we are actually looking at. What seems to be a simple scene of daily life, turns into a play upon a closer look. Either comedy or drama, that one picture turns into a play with actors. The only thing is that they are not playing a role, this is real life.
We were offered a sneak peek of the brand-new exhibition by American photographer Bruce Davidson (1933). Davidson’s collection consists of pictures from the 60s, 70s and 80s. He witnessed and photographed poor families in Brooklyn, life on the subway in NYC and much more. I felt drawn into so many of his images, reflecting the harsh and unglamorous daily life. Davidson is able to capture people’s struggle in life so well. From this personal perspective, he was able to frame big and important happenings in American history. This exhibition runs from 16 sep 2017 – 7 jan 2018.
Genesis by world-renowned Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado (1944) is something totally different. Salgado is not only showing us the beauty of our planet but also the struggle of Mother Nature to survive. In remote regions people and animals still live in harmony with each other and with nature. But Salgado’s photographs warn us: nature is under attack of the ever-growing human population and its urge to conquer/own all that is around us. This exhibition is one big call to preserve our planet. Genesis runs until 22 oct 2017.
The Netherlands Photo Museum is one of a kind in the Netherlands offering inspiring collections in a modern, industrial setting. Exhibitions change couple of times a year. Check their website for upcoming exhibitions and opening hours.
Something completely different: the Kunsthal (translated as Hall of Art). The Kunsthal is all about modern, contemporary art. Collections are changing frequently and vary from each other big time! We have seen film posters from Ghana, a tribute to Prince, unusual images of cats (an exhibition called Cat Lovers), cabin crew dresses from the past (Fashion in the air) and much more. If you are looking for something really different and you are open to almost everything, Kunsthal is for you!
We have been to Kunsthal a couple of times and although the contemporary art is not really our thing, we loved how the art was positioned in very large spaces. At Kunsthal it seems they want to refrain from exhibiting art in small rooms. Art needs space to breathe and to express its message. That is exactly what Kunsthal is doing.
Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
Museum Boijmans van Beuningen is one of the oldest museums in the Netherlands. Dutch and European masterpieces provide a comprehensive survey of art from the early Middle Ages to now.
The permanent collection of Boijmans has recently (24 June 2017) been changed. Guest curator Carel Blotkamp made sure to feature more than 500 artworks in a new configuration called The Collections as Time Machine. Blotkamp encourages ‘slow looking’ by returning to a chronological ordering of the works, but ‘with a twist’. The collection is divided into eight time blocks, so you kind of travel back and forth through art history. The transitions between periods are abrupt and will improve the experience.
How to enjoy art even more? Have an enthusiastic guide explain you all about the artworks, like in our case Peter Thissen. We are no true art experts, but the way he explained some of the works makes you want to know more about art! With such a contagious enthusiasm, he opened up our eyes to the meaning of the work of art and its artist. Thanks Peter!
One more thing about the Boijmans. The museum will be closed between 2019 and 2026 for a very extensive renovation. However, in 2021 a new remarkable building (part of Boijmans) will be opened right next door: The Depot. The Boijmans new public art depot is currently being build right next to the museum and will be a storage space for all the art currently not on display. The design (from MVRDV architects) is again stunning. A reflective round volume will offer a rooftop forest and viewpoint. But most importantly, visitors will be able to enter and watch art that was currently stored in basements.
Rotterdam museums and tourist information
When you visit Rotterdam, start your stay at the Tourist Information office or visit their informative website. The Tourist Information office is situated at Coolsingel 114. It offers a great introduction to the city and you can easily start mapping out all the places you want to visit. Don’t forget to visit the nearby historical Schielandshuis.
In Rotterdam, we stayed at the Nhow hotel which is almost opposite the Netherlands Photo Museum. The hotel bar offers great view of the famous Erasmus bridge (also called the Swan). Lovely place to have a drink after another inspiring day in Rotterdam.
Want to read more about Rotterdam? Just click here for a complete overview.