Known first and foremost as the home of the UN’s Court of Justice and the Dutch parliament, The Hague is also home to a wide variety of cultural experiences. Dutch artistry has long been revered, and the many high-quality contemporary galleries in The Hague work to preserve this historical reverence as well as showcasing innovative, modern artworks. Culture Trip has picked the best contemporary art galleries in The Hague.
Housed within the Lange Voorhout Palace, a historic royal residence that was formerly the winter palace of Queen Mother Emma of the Netherlands, Escher in Het Paleis (Escher in the Palace) boasts a permanent collection of over 150 MC Escher prints. The art gallery acts as an outstanding memorial to Escher, one of the greatest contemporary Dutch graphic artists. The collection is displayed across two floors, starting with Escher’s early work, largely Italian landscapes. It then moves on to the artist’s mesmerising mosaics and more abstract works, optical illusions and fantastical sculptures. Interspersed between the artworks are photographs of the Escher family. The highlight of the exhibition is undoubtedly a seven-metre (23-foot) geometric woodcut, Metamorphosis III, the largest print that Escher created. The captivating pattern morphs seamlessly from basic geometric shapes into scenes of carrier pigeons delivering mail.
The magnificent building that houses The Hague’s Kunstmuseum is an artwork in itself. Designed by Dutch architect HP Berlage, the striking building was completed in 1935 and is recognisable by its yellow brickwork. Inside, walls feature colourful tiles, and skylights and windows set high in the walls provide plenty of light. But it’s the artwork that makes the gallery so worth visiting. Kunstmuseum catalogues the development of contemporary art, moving from the works famous artists such as Picasso, Egon Schiele and Piet Mondrian, to examples of more recent modern art by the likes of Marlene Dumas and Tjebbe Beekman.
One of The Hague’s newer galleries, the Fotomuseum Den Haag opened in 2002 and is entirely dedicated to the art of photography. With a wide range of exhibitions that span a number of time periods and showcase an extensive range of techniques – from vivid colour to monochrome photography, classic to contemporary, abstract to portrait – the selection houses works by revered photographers such as Emmy Andriessestraat and Leonard Freed. Temporary exhibitions display a diverse range of photography collections.
Galerie Helder prides itself on presenting the work of up-and-coming contemporary artists, displaying their creations in bright, airy surroundings with ample space to allow the artworks to speak for themselves. Amidst these fresh new artistic voices are the works of established professionals such as Marena Seeling and the exquisitely detailed art of Sander Reijgers. There is a self-professed living room-style atmosphere to the gallery, which was designed with the intention of making contemporary art as accessible as possible to people from all walks of life. The gallery also demonstrates the importance of harmony between interior design and visual art to create a fluid ambiance. Galerie Helder has previously displayed the subtle canvas works of Yves Beaumont and the controversial portraits of Jans Muskee.
In the centre of The Hague lies Galerie Ramakers, which exhibits contemporary art from both established and emerging national and international artists. Set in a beautiful 19th-century canal house with an adjoining sculpture garden, Ramakers boasts an in-house artist and hosts eight exhibitions each year. The personal tastes of gallery founder Catalijn Ramakers are clear in the choice of artists, and previous displays have included paintings by Michel Hoogervorst and sculptures by Yumiko Yoneda.
Het Cleyne Huys places two-dimensional art and free-standing sculpture in conversation under sensitive spotlights, prioritising Modernist and Postmodernist artistry from predominantly Dutch but also international artists. With an impressive catalogue of past exhibitions, Het Cleyne Huys has shown the realistic animal sculptures of Jacqueline van der Laan as well as the more abstract works of poet and artist Albert in ‘t Veld, among a multitude of others. In addition to the normal opening hours, visits to Het Cleyne Huys can be arranged by appointment.
The Haagse Kunstkring is a vital stop on any The Hague itinerary. Connecting three centuries of artistic prowess within its four walls, the famous Kunstkring, which means ‘art circle’, provides a meeting point for artists and keen gallery-goers; an exhibition space for new artists as well as well-known faces on the contemporary art scene; and a breeding ground for artistic experimentation, discussion and debate. The gallery has sections on visual arts; design and architecture; arts, theatre and film; and music. Wander around the spacious, light building and enjoy the offerings from any one of these divisions, which are often charmingly interlinked.
Heden strives to demolish the boundaries between exhibition, exhibitor and viewer, offering the opportunity for customers to mobilise the gallery’s collections into their own offices or home spaces. For visitors to the area, however, the gallery itself features a multitude of well-lit modern artworks, all from artists with a connection to The Hague. Innovative photography, sculpture, painting, embroideries and more have all been shown here.