Amsterdam’s Must-Visit Contemporary Art Galleries

There are many smaller art spaces in Amsterdam to complement bigger institutions like the Stedelijk
There are many smaller art spaces in Amsterdam to complement bigger institutions like the Stedelijk | © Ken Welsh / Alamy Stock Photo
Tom Coggins

Aside from the city’s larger cultural institutions like the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk, there are many smaller, independent galleries in Amsterdam. These establishments include several multi-functional platforms that contain spaces for exhibitions, music and food, as well as more straightforward galleries that support the local (and international) art scene.

1. Mediamatic

Art Gallery

Mediamatic’s multi-purpose headquarters on Dijksgracht serves as an incubator for many different projects related to sustainability, innovative agriculture and bio-art. There are areas for smaller art or design projects spread around the complex and a large exhibition space located on its eastern side. After checking out what’s happening at Mediamatic, visitors can relax at the organisation’s waterside restaurant and order vegan food made from ingredients grown in an on-site aquaponics greenhouse. It is also possible to attend workshops at Mediamatic that generally focus on modern gastronomy and small-scale, ecological farming.

2. P/////AKT

Art Gallery

P/////AKT collaborates with emerging talent in order to create exhibitions and shows that explore contemporary developments within the art world. The gallery encourages creatives to develop site-specific works for exhibitions and often hosts additional performances during finissages. The project is completely non-profit and is financed by several Dutch art initiatives, including the Mondrian Fund. P/////AKT usually organises around 10 exhibitions per year and has a small, rentable living space allocated for travelling artists.

3. Flemish Cultural Centre De Brakke Grond

Art Gallery, Music Venue, Theatre

As its name suggests, this multi-disciplinary cultural centre mainly shows works created by contemporary artists, writers and performers from Flanders, Belgium. The centre essentially serves as an artistic embassy for Flanders and was created in order to foster communication between the Flemish and the Dutch art scenes. The centre put on events throughout the week and has space for exhibitions, talks and performances. It also has an on-site Belgian-style bar that features one of the largest terraces in Central Amsterdam.

5. GO Gallery

Art Gallery

GO Gallery was originally located underneath a building spanning a street-art piece by the London Police collective on Prinsengracht (Prince’s Canal), but has since relocated to another site on Marnixstraat. The gallery has championed street art and contemporary Pop art since it launched in the late 1990s and has presented works from many famous figures within these intertwined scenes. Due to its long-term and ongoing contributions to the art form, GO Gallery won the Dutch Street Art Prize for Greatest Gallery in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

6. Melkweg

Art Gallery, Music Venue

Although it is mainly associated with music rather than art, Melkweg has space for mid-size exhibitions and often hosts shows that coincide with other events on the venue’s monthly calendar. For instance, it is quite common for Melkweg to display artworks associated with specific festivals or parties for several weeks before these events take place. Melkweg also provides space for solo or group exhibitions that aren’t necessarily affiliated with the venue’s programme and regularly shines a spotlight on emerging artists based in the Netherlands.

7. CORRIDOR Project Space

Art Gallery

As CORRIDOR Project Space changes its current exhibitions almost every four weeks, there is a constant stream of new, innovative art passing through its halls. The gallery prizes critical, multi-disciplinary thought and regularly presents works that engage with the social sciences, humanities and political theory. CORRIDOR Project Space also organises social events and an ongoing series of dinners that involves mezze, drinks and storytelling.

8. W139

Art Gallery

Like many other famous cultural spaces in Amsterdam, W139 started out as an illegal squat and has since become an important autonomous part of the city’s creative scene. A group of young artists founded the project in the late 1970s in order to create an exhibition space that wasn’t attached to the city’s cultural institutions or commercial galleries. Nowadays, W139 stages around five major exhibitions each year that are developed and realised on-site by artists-in-residence. These exhibitions are always artist-led and usually involve site-specific works and installations.

9. De School

Art Gallery, Music Venue

Aside from organising incredibly popular club nights in its lower levels every weekend and housing a high-end restaurant, De School also puts on temporary exhibitions throughout the year that usually present works created by artists based in Amsterdam. These exhibitions are free to enter and often remain on display until the early morning, meaning that visitors can experience new art while attending other events at De School. Most weeks, De School hosts a range of talks and workshops.

10. Galerie Fons Welter

Art Gallery

To access Galerie Fons Welter, guests must pass through a green metallic door on Bloemenstraat, which looks as though it has been salvaged from an old military bunker. This entrance leads into Galerie Fons Welter’s expansive interior that features two individual exhibition spaces. The smaller hall usually centres on emerging artists, whereas its larger space generally hosts more comprehensive solo or group exhibitions. Although it is common for Galerie Fons Welter to display painting and photography, its exhibitions usually focus on sculptures and other larger three-dimensional pieces.

Lily Niu contributed additional reporting to this article.

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