Contemporary and colourful with captivating communities that you’re sure to fall in love with, Rotterdam is the perfect destination for those looking to soak up some culture. A haven for those who are enamoured with art, the city has so much to offer on a Baltic cruise from Rotterdam, from independent galleries showcasing lesser-known artists to acclaimed curations boasting work from some of the most prolific artists in the Netherlands.
For those who love to immerse themselves in art, a visit to one of Rotterdam’s biggest art galleries is essential. However, the city is a hive of creativity, so you can catch a glimpse of a masterpiece wherever you walk, with street art available on every corner. If you’re planning a visit to this incredible location, make sure to check out this guide to Rotterdam’s art scene.
Museums and galleries
Image credit – Iris van den Broek
There truly is no place like Rotterdam for art lovers. The city boasts many different establishments, each offering you a different artistic perspective. Whether you prefer modern art, something with historical significance or delicate sculptures that have stood the test of time, there is something for everyone.
MAMA, the Contour Gallery and the Garage, Rotterdam are great options for those looking to fit several gallery trips into their visit to Rotterdam. With MAMA’s youth-led vision, you can view some fantastic works created by the country’s youngest talents. With a focus on all things contemporary, the showroom has been open since 1997, with performances and events regularly taking place here also. The Contour Gallery has a selection of photography exhibitions and regularly participates in art fairs, whereas medium-sized Garage, Rotterdam holds four exhibitions a year, in addition to lectures and concerts on all things contemporary.
If you’re looking to spend more than a couple of hours, there are several larger institutions for you to explore. Located in one of Rotterdam’s most iconic pieces of modern architecture, Kunsthal is the perfect place for art lovers. Open Tuesdays to Sundays, entry for adults costs €14. It is important to note that Kunsthal doesn’t accept cash payments, so buying tickets on their website is preferred. Once inside, head to view one of the exhibitions or join in with one of the activities, masterclasses or workshops taking place.
Kim from Rotterdam Partners would suggest a visit to the Kunsthal gallery when in Rotterdam. “The art scene in Rotterdam is diverse, young and contemporary. A good reflection of this can be found in the art institutions that you find on the lively Witte de Withstraat. Furthermore, the Museumpark is where you’ll find the bigger institutes, such as the Kunsthal Rotterdam. On the south bank, you can’t miss the Nederlands Fotomuseum. Rotterdam is also famed for its huge collection of public art, from renowned artists such as Picasso, Rodin and Paul McCarthy”.
“Kunsthal Rotterdam has a varied programme, from hip-hop exhibitions to major fashion retrospectives. This autumn they will showcase the works of Thierry Mugler. The Nederlands Fotomuseum is located across the street from Rotterdam’s Cruise Terminal and is something not to miss. Scheduled to open late in 2020 is the new Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen. Designed by MVRDV, the bowl-shaped building is covered in a mirrored façade and can be viewed from the streets of Museumpark. This will be a new cultural icon for our city and I would recommend visitors to stop by and have a glance while on their way to Kunsthal Rotterdam.”
Alternatively, Nederlands Fotomuseum works to “safeguard the Netherlands’ current and future photographic heritage and make it relevant to today’s international context.” As one of the only photography galleries in Rotterdam, the Nederlands Fotomuseum provides an interesting insight into the art scene with an emphasis on Dutch photography, so each collection has been carefully curated.
We spoke to Annemarie from the museum, who would recommend people “to visit the Nederlands Fotomuseum to get an impressing insight into the rich Dutch history of photography.” If you’re planning a trip to the Fotomuseum, admission to the Nederlands Fotomuseum costs €14 and is open from Tuesday to Sunday. “For just a drink at the end of the afternoon, I would recommend the Fenix Food Factory at Katendrecht. Also, Deliplein, next to the Fenix Food Factory, is a nice place to have dinner at one of the fancy restaurants. And I would recommend just anyone to take the water taxi to cross the river. This is absolutely an unforgettable experience.”
Image credit – Eric Fecken
Although galleries can provide you with a look into some of the most significant works of art in the city, a glimpse at Rotterdam’s street art can show you a unique perspective. This Dutch city has one of the most vibrant collections of street art that you’re likely to see, with artists coming from near and far to transform the blank canvas of a wall into a work of art.
“If you want to take in Rotterdam’s famed architecture and enjoy public art at the same time. Download the street art app from Rewriters010. For a free guided tour through the smaller art institutions on the Witte de Withstraat, join Kunstavond each Friday night. For architecture lovers, do visit the two Modernist villas at the Museumpark: Huis Sonneveld and the Chabot Museum. The latter organises tours during the weekends to the UNESCO listed Van Nelle Factory, you can make use of a shuttle bus that is included in the ticket. I can’t recommend this tour enough and for (amateur) photographers the Van Nelle Factory is a dream.”
If you’re looking to enjoy the large-scale artworks, the Rotterdam street art route is best. The Rewriters app allows you to download a map of the route, which spans for 7km and is regularly updated to include new pieces. As the tour is self-guided, you can cover as much (or as little as you like), perhaps even opting to hire a bike to cover as much of it as possible.
The best places to visit in Rotterdam for art
Rotterdam is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking to head to an art gallery whilst on your cruise. The city’s exceptional array of galleries, museums and street art ensures that you’re never too far away from viewing the next masterpiece. If you’re planning on visiting Rotterdam, make sure to head to one of these locations:
- Contour Gallery
- Garage Rotterdam
- Kunsthal Rotterdam
- Nederlands Fotomuseum