Known predominantly as the seat of the Dutch parliament, The Hague is also home to a wide variety of cultural experiences, from scenic restaurants and cafes to stunning galleries. Dutch artistry has long been revered, and the many high-quality contemporary galleries in The Hague work to preserve this historical reverence in the light of innovative contemporary movements. Here are 10 galleries showcasing the best of art in The Hague.
Escher in the Palace, Den Haag | Courtesy of Escher at Het Palais
Escher at Het Palais
Housed within the beautiful former winter palace of Queen Mother Emma of the Netherlands, the permanent collection of over 150 Maurits C. Escher prints is an outstanding memorial to one of the greatest contemporary Dutch graphic artists. The highlight of the exhibition is undoubtedly the seven-metre geometric woodcut ‘Metamorphosis III’, morphing from basic geometric shapes into scenes of carrier pigeons delivering mail, to befit its commissioning body, the Aesthetics department of the Post Office. The collection across two floors moves from Escher’s early work of Italian landscapes and mesmerising mosaics to the more abstract works, optical illusions and fantastical sculptures. Interspersed between the artworks are photographs of the Escher family, thus revealing both creations and their creator to depict a truly ‘Escherian’ organic whole and sense of infinity.
With the magnificent building an undeniably beautiful piece of architecture in itself, designed in 1935 by H.P. Berlage, Gemeentemuseum catalogues the development of contemporary art. Moving from exemplary old masters such as Picasso, Kandinsky and Piet Mondriaan, the gallery moves towards ground-breaking modern art by the likes of Matthias Weischer and the haunting sculptures of Thomas Houseago. With frequent bids to animate painting and sculpture through interactive presentations from artists, Gemeentemuseum offers a fresh, dynamic approach to the perusal of contemporary art.
A young museum, opening in only 2002, the Fotomuseum Den Haag is dedicated entirely to the art of photography. With a wide range of exhibitions across a number of periods and through an extensive range of techniques – from vivid colour to monochrome, classic to contemporary, abstract to portrait – the selection houses works by revered photographers, such as Emmy Andriessestraat and Leonard Freed, to the surreal childhood depiction of Loretta Lux.
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. In amidst these fresh new artistic voices are the works ofestablished professionals such as Marena Seeling and the exquisite detail of Sander Reijgers. There is a self-professed ‘living room’ style atmosphere to the gallery, designed with the intention of making contemporary art as accessible as possible to people from all walks of life, demonstrating the importance of interior design harmonising with visual art to create a fluid ambiance. Galerie Helder has worked with the subtle canvas works of Yves Beaumont and the controversial portraits of Jans Muskee, making it an ideal venue for any modernist pilgrimage.
In the centre of The Hague lies Galerie Ramakars, housing exhibitions of contemporary art from both established and emerging national and international artists. Set in a beautiful nineteenth-century canal house with adjoining sculpture garden, Ramakars boasts an in-house artist as well as nine stimulating exhibitions annually. Featuring the work of bold sculptor and conceptual artist Sioerd Buisman and the large, adapted nature scenes of Michel Hoogervorst, amongst others, Galerie Ramakers is an innovative collection of illuminated sculptures, fluid canvas paintings and dynamic sketches exhibiting the very best Dutch artistry.
De Galerieis a truly interactive experience, offering observers the chance to rent the art they see on display. Due to the alternative nature of the gallery, therefore, the scope of their exhibitions tends towards the more adventurous: exhibiting everything from the complicated, multi-coloured symbolism of Jacqueline Bozon to the striking photographs of conflict-riven Ireland by Luka Brase. The gallery offers extensive collections and a variety of styles from a large pool of artists, both national and international, broadening the aspect of aesthetic appreciation The Hague.
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 housed the fluid, ‘bubbling’ colour of Ger Jansen, the vivid, slightly distorted landscapes of Guus van Eck and the provocative pixel art of Jeanette Lotz, amongst a multitude of others, bringing art to life by offering the opportunity to dine amongst the art and enjoy the gallery as a reception venue.
The Haagse Kunst Kring is vital for any cultural trip to The Hague. Connecting three centuries of artistic prowess within the four walls, the famous Hague 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, discussions, and debates. The art circle has four denominations: ‘visual arts’, ‘design and architecture’, ‘arts theatre and film’ and finally, ‘music’. Wander around the spacious, light building and enjoy the offerings from either division – often charmingly interlinked to provide a total artwork addressing each sensory dimension.
Heden strives to demolish the boundaries between exhibition, exhibitor and viewer, offering the opportunity to mobilise collections into the office and home space. For visitors to the area, however, the gallery is an enjoyable cultural experience featuring a multitude of well-lit modern artworks, from the exhibition of Gracia Khouw, innovatively focusing on the visual translation of sound, to the minimalism of Prilla Tania.
In the striking blue wall of windows that is the Krandendonk Gallery frontage, sits a comprehensive collection of contemporary art and photography. From the experimental sculpture of Malte Waldel to the haunting portrayals of daily life depicted in the photographs of Bieke Depoorter, Kranendonk is a valid and important space for the display of modern art. With spacious, high ceilings inside and a leafy, floral patio outside for quiet contemplation, Kranendonk has everything needed for an afternoon’s cultural diversion. There are also a collection of cafes in the area and spaces to eat in the gallery itself.