Must-See Art Exhibitions in The Netherlands 2016

must see art exhibitions the netherlands 2016

2016 Must-See Art Exhibitions In The Netherlands

With 2016 well on its way and some weeks of hibernation behind us, it’s about time to have a look at what’s going on in terms of art events and exhibitions in The Netherlands this year. As in the previous years there’s a lot being organized in our tiny country again, with some famous artworks are being brought to the Netherlands from all over the world to cool, cool new initiatives and the regular yearly art events of course.

But which are the events we personally would love to see and/or would recommend you to go? Let’s have a look at our selection of exhibitions from the north to the south to the east and the west of country. We’ll be regularly updating this overview with new events we’ll come across, so bookmark this page if you’re interested to discover more exhibitions in The Netherlands.

(Last update: 23 October 2016)




Karel Appel 

Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag

until 16 May 2016

0333088_gemeentemuseum_karel_appel_exhibitions in the Netherlands

Karel Appel, Kind IV, collectie Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. © Karel Appel Foundation, c/o Pictoright Amsterdam 2015

Internationally seen, Karel Appel is probably one of the most renowned Dutch artists of the second half of the twentieth century. As from mid January the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague is organizing a major retrospective of the artist, who passed away ten years ago this year. With Appel being a member of the Cobra group, the exhibition naturally also pays attention to this aspect from all different angles. There will however be many more aspects that will be highlighted. Think of Karel Appel’s interest in psychopathalogical art, his stylistic experiments and his highly personal interpretation of traditional subjects like nude, rural landscapes and the like. With almost 140 different artworks at display, ranging from drawings to objects and paintings, it sounds like a promising exhibition worth traveling to The Hague for.

Jheronimus Bosch year

among others in Noord Brabants Museum in ‘s Hertogenbosch

until 8 May, exhibition + others all year round

This year it is 500 years ago, that ‘s Hertogenbosch’s most famous citizen passed away. His name was Jheronimus Bosch, the artist behind many surreal, detailed paintings and drawings, depicting life in medieval times. Already back in his days Bosch his work was admired all over the world. This is clearly still the case, as nowadays his works works can be found in many museums around the world.

To commemorate the 500th anniversary of Bosch his death the southern Dutch city of ‘s Hertogenbosch (or alternatively called ‘Den Bosch’ in Dutch) is organizing different events throughout the year, ranging from in- and outdoor exhibitions, theater, music and lectures.

The exhibition ‘Vision of a Genius’ in the Noord-Brabants Museum in Den Bosch (or alternatively spelled ‘s Hertogenbosch in Dutch) is expected to be the highlight of the Jheronimus Bosch year. For this exhibition dozens of Bosch’s artworks will be brought back to the city where they were once created, making this the largest retrospective of Bosch ever seen. Expect the quality of the paintings to be high, as many of the artworks have been restored carefully as part of the Bosch Research and Conservation Project.

Spanish Masters from the Hermitage. The World of El Greco, Ribera, Zurbarán, Velázquez, Murillo & Goya

The Hermitage, Amsterdam

until 29 May

hermitage-spaanse_meesters-exhibitions in the Netherlands

Exhibition Spanish Masters at Hermitage, Amsterdam, © Evert Elzinga


It has seldom been seen before in The Netherlands, such a comprehensive overview of Spanish masters like El Greco, Goya, Ribera and Zurbaran as currently on in the Hermitage in Amsterdam. All artworks come from the collection of the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, which is said to have the largest collection of Spanish art outside Spain. With some sixty artworks of different artists telling the story of the Spanish masters and their pupils in the Golden Age, it sounds like quite a promising exhibition. Yet, the exhibition has gotten some mixed reviews already. We still plan on going to form our own opinion.

Bobbing Forrest

Rijnhaven, Rotterdam

as from 16 March

Bobbing_Forest_exhibitions in the Netherlands

Bobbing Forrest, Rottterdam, The Netherlands

How to increase vegetation in an urban environment, which is full of interesting architectural buildings, but where only little space for anything else is left? The Dutch artist Jorge Bakker found the solution with his Bobbing Forest project. During this project different people and organizations – including the art collective Mothership – collaborated and experimented to see how a tree could grow and root in a buoy floating in the water. An interesting venture actually as the experiments showed that not every tree can. So far only the Dutch Elm has shown that it is able to survive in such a limited and difficult environment.  The result of the project will be visible in Rotterdam’s Rijnhaven as from 16 March onwards, when there are supposed to float some twenty trees in the harbour.

Joris Laarman

Groninger Museum, Groningen 

until 10 April

We were already quite fascinated by the possibilities of 3-d printing for some time. So far we’ve seen little examples as beautiful as the 3-d printed objects of the Dutch designer Joris Laarman though. You can currently find examples of his work in the Groninger Museum. While we were actually in the museum for the impressive exhibition of David Bowie (which is prolonged until 10 April by the way), this exhibition fitted extremely well to it. During his career as a designer/artist/inventor Laarman (born 1979) has continuously been experimenting with new techniques and new materials producing playful, yet beautiful objects, of which 3d printing is only one. In the museum you can also see a first impression of how the 3-d printed bridge will look like, which Laarman is currently constructing in the centre of Amsterdam.


Soft Power. Arte Brasil.

Kunsthal Kade, Amersfoort

21 May – 28 August


Soft Power. Arte Brasil exhibition in Kunsthal Kade, Amersfoort. Contemporary Art. Exhibitions in the Netherlands

Soft Power. Arte Brasil exhibition in Kunsthal Kade, Amersfoort.

This summer you don’t have to travel all the way to Brazil to see its stunning contemporary art. As from the 21st of May the Kunsthal Kade in Amersfoort will house an extensive exhibitions of contemporary art from the largest South American country. The exhibition coincides with the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016, an important moment for Brazil to present itself to the world. Through the art exhibited you can have a closer look at Brazil’s identity and culture. A number of artist will make some artworks specifically for this show, among which a number of murals.

We kind of have a soft spot for Brazil, after having traveled there for three months in a row a couple of years ago, so this exhibition will certainly be on our list to visit in 2016, especially since we missed the Inhotim, the biggest contemporary art centre in Brazil. Amersfoort being only about half an hour away from Amsterdam we’re sure it will make an interesting day trip.

The Art of Banksy

Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam

18 June 2016 – 30 September

The Art of Banksy Amsterdam Beurs van Berlage

Previously he organized an unauthorized retrospective of Banksy in London, this time Steve Lazarides – Banksy’s former agent – comes to Amsterdam with the European premiere of The Art of Banksy, one of the biggest exhibitions of Banksy so far.

About 85 works of the renowned street artist will be exhibited at a central location in Amsterdam, namely the Beurs van Berlage, just some five minutes walk from Amsterdam’s Central Station.

The exhibition will contain the artworks most important for Banksy’s rise to fame and will range from original canvasses to paintings and sculptures, all connected to each other via interactive story-telling. All artworks come from the collections of private collectors and Lazarides himself.

Helmut Newton – a retrospective

FOAM, Amsterdam

17 June – 4 September

newton foam amsterdam exhibitions in the Netherlands

(c) Newton

This summer FOAM will present a major exhibition of the work of the legendary photographer Helmut Newton, one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, especially in the field of fashion and glamour photography. One of themes often recurring in his works are seductive and powerful women, which was at the time considered as quite provocative and thus in a way somewhat surreal. Besides that Newton often portrayed the major names of his times, like film stars and politicians.

During this retrospective more than 200 photographs will be shown, ranging from his early prints hardly displayed before to those better known to the public. Most of these come from the collection of the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin. Helmut by June, the film made in 1995 by the wife of Newton’s wife June, will also be screened. Not surprisingly, an exhibition of this size will take over the whole FOAM building.

If you haven’t been to the Museum for Fotografie of the Helmut Newton Stifting in Berlin before, we expect this will be an excellent chance to see more of the photographer’s work.

Botero: Celebrate Life!

Kunsthal, Rotterdam

2 July until 11 September


First Lady by Fernando Botero

We got super-excited when we heard that the Colombian artist Fernando Botero would be having a large-scale retrospective at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam this summer. During this retrospective you’ll be able to admire about one hundred sculptures, sketches and paintings of Botero, among which his ‘Caballo’, the famous sculpture he made of a horse.

If you are a bit familiar with Botero’s oeuvre, you’ll immediately recognize his work by the voluminous bodies and objects, the elements so characteristic for it. In his work he often depicts daily life in Latin-America with a humour, which you don’t often see in the art world. His oeuvre does however also contain images of the somewhat darker side of the society Botero grew up and lived in. Think of his paintings of presidents, executions and weeping widows, which form a stark contrast with his other colourful paintings, full with people dancing and partying. Another favourite theme of Botero is religion, something he often comments on satirically, for example in his paintings of nuns, cardinals and popes. Also these works will be on show during the exhibition.

With this retrospective the Kunsthal once again manages to get in a world-famous artist (like they did last year with the Keith Haring exhibition), marking itself one of the must-visit museums in Rotterdam this summer, or well, actually in The Netherlands as a whole.

Ai Weiwei  – Safe Passage

Foam, Amsterdam

16 September – 7 December 2016

Safe Passage Ai Weiwei FOAM Amsterdam

Safe Passage, 2016 © Ai Weiwei

Starting early autumn this year the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei (1957, China) will have a large solo exhibition at the Foam, photography museum, in Amsterdam.

Having lived under constant government surveillance as a political refugee for years, Ai Weiwei feels very much related to the life and stories of the refugees attempting to enter the European Union. It is thus not surprising that he dedicated himself to bringing this topic (in his words ‘the biggest, most shameful humanitarian crisis since World War II) to the attention of a wider audience through his artworks.

After having been granted permission to travel outside China again Ai Weiwei started travelling to the refugee camps around the Mediterranean and further,  documenting the people and stories he came across.

The exhibition will be an interesting mix of Ai Weiwei’s personal experiences as a refugee of the Chinese government and the lives and experiences of those who risked their life to reach Europe. The artist does however not only look at the individuals, he will also focus on the overruling systems of society. An exhibition well-worth visiting we’d say, even without having seen anything of it at the moment of writing this (July 2016).

Scarlett Hooft Graafland – Shores Like You

Huis Marseille, Amsterdam

10 September 2016 – 4 December 2016

Scarlett Hooft Graafland Shores Like You Vanuatu

The Dutch photographer Scarlett Hooft Graafland travels around some of the most remote countries around the world for her photography projects, in which she combines landscapes with local, cultural elements in a subtle, serene way . The results are beautiful, surreal pictures from places like the Vanuatu archipelago to the island of Socotra and the Bolivian highlands.

If you look at these serene pictures well, you will however notice that many of them contain elements telling a deeper story which actually threatens this serenity.  Think of the salt-plains of the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, which contains loads of lithium in which many people are interested, or her quest to find some of the most unique tree variants around the world.

During the exhibition ‘Shores Like You’ at Huis Marseille you will be able to see many of Scarlett Hooft Graafland’s impressive works. Make sure to read the signs to get a better understanding of what you’re actually seeing in front of you.

Making Africa – Continent of Contemporary Design

Kunsthal, Rotterdam

1 October – 15 January 2017

Mario Macilau Making Africa Kunsthal Rotterdam

Mário Macilau, »Alito, The Guy with Style«, from the »Moments of Transition« series, 2013, photograph, photo: © Mário Macilau, courtesy Ed Cross Fine Art Ltd, London

When thinking of African art most of us will think of the amazing wood-works coming from all different African countries. Although these have some contemporary feel, they are mostly shaped according to centuries old traditions and superstitions, like is for example the case with the coffin-art. Yet, the newer generation of artists looks at other ways to express themselves, breaks with the conventional definitions and often uses very different materials compared to their predecessors. During the exhibition Making Africa – Continent of Contemporary Design in the Kunsthal in Rotterdam end of this year you can see how.

Through the work of over 120 African artists and designers you will get a better idea and feel how design fuels the economic and political changes on the African continent and how local artists experiment and seek for solutions of worldwide relevance. Besides relatively well-known artists of the older generation such as the photographers Keita and Sidibé, the exhibition presents an entirely new generation of artists who are engaged in designing the Africa of now and of the future.

Rodin – Genius at Work

Groninger Museum, Groningen

19 November to 30 April


Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), The Thinker, 1903

With over 120 sculptures and 20 works on paper the exhibition Rodin – Genius At Work in the Groninger Museum will be the largest Rodin exhibition to take place in The Netherlands ever. The exhibition not only features Rodin’s sculptures, including those titled The Thinker and Balzac, but also ceramics, and never-before-exhibited photos, all showing the artist’s creativity. Also a further look will be given into the unique working process behind several of his most famous works, such as The Kiss. This exhibition was curated by the Musée Rodin in Paris and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Canada. It promises to be one of the highlights of the museum this year, after the great success of the David Bowie exhibition that is.

Since we stood in front of closed doors when trying to visit the Rodin museum in Paris last year, we hope this exhibition will give us another chance to see the works of one of the greatest and most influential sculptors of the modern era.

More to come ..







About The Author: Lydian Brunsting

'To be with Art is all we ask'- Gilbert and George. A quote that has stayed with me since I first saw it a couple of years ago. The word I would add though is 'travel' and that is, in fact, Art Weekenders, our new creation. The Art Weekenders project combines my passions for art, travel and photography, while we - at the same time - like to inspire and hopefully help you to prepare your art getaway. I am also photographer, writer and developer of the photoblog SHOuTography, a project that I started during a year of travelling through South-America to explore my life-long passion for photography.