Where to Find Street Art in the Netherlands

Written by Polya Pencheva

The Netherlands is famous for its tulip fields and people on colorful bikes rushing to their destination. There is just this concept about the country that does not always fall into the contemporary vision of modern people. Yet, there is so much more to see and do than just the traditional sightseeing and frikandel tasting. The Netherlands is home to unique sites offering the chance to see different pieces of art including amazing murals and exceptional street art.

It is no wonder that the Netherlands was the first country where graffiti caught on in Europe. Graffiti first became known in Amsterdam and shortly afterward in other cities such as Eindhoven, Rotterdam, Utrecht, and The Hague. But modernity has had its own impact on Dutch culture and left its mark on the streets for years to come.

The Netherlands takes pride in being a country in which innovation is thriving. Although graffiti is far from this, it showed up as something new and something that people enjoyed. New things and new ways of doing things such as contactless payments have become accepted by the open-minded Dutch, people that street art didn’t fall too far behind. Recently, the Netherlands classified as the 7th most innovative country in the world. This is another aspect of the way Dutch mindset is structured and willing to accept change. Even just a thing such as the appearance of their streets.

Furthermore, graffiti was a way of expression at a time in which society seemed like it wasn’t listening. The focus in the past was mostly on political messaging. This concept has to some extent changed nowadays with artists focusing not only on sending a message but also creating something beautiful and enhance the surrounding of people.

In Amsterdam, Yaki Kornblit had a major role in the street art movement because he was amongst the first European gallery owners to exhibit the biggest names of American graffiti. In the early 1980s, he collected works from US artists and brought them to Europe. In the midst of the 80s, there was an explosion of artists expressing their views. And Amsterdam is indeed amongst the first places to go to when choosing a destination for a street art hunt in The Netherlands.

Amsterdam

One good place to start exploring street art of course is the capital. Amsterdam has provided a canvas for many local artists and has become popular among international artists as well. While Amsterdam has a huge historical and cultural heritage to present to visitors, it is also the home to many street art works. The late 90s were the dawn of the Amsterdam Street art scene.  Moreover, throughout the 90s, Dutch graffiti artists developed a bold and colorful style influenced by what was going on in the US. This was also the time when artists like The London Police and Waye Horse became pioneers in this field. The voices of these street artists were the true artistic of freedom.

One place to certainly explore what the city of Amsterdam can offer in terms of street art is the Street Art Museum Amsterdam, STRAAT. Residing in an 8000 square meter former warehouse on the NDSM wharf, STRAAT is the biggest location for street art and graffiti in Amsterdam. The museum hosts more than 100 pieces of art created on-site by more than 150 artists.

Certainly, STRAAT isn’t the only place to experience street art in the capital. If you are interested in modern art, you could visit Moco Museum. There you would have the chance to see a large number of Banksy’s @banksy works. It also offers a virtual tour that transports you to another world.

Utrecht

The next destination would certainly be Utrecht. Full of amazing murals, Utrecht is one of the cities in the Netherlands worth visiting. Located in the central part of the Netherlands, the cozy vibe of the city allows one to peacefully explore every corner and discover unforgettable sites. Some of the most interesting locations to see street art include the Mural of the Bookshelf (Mimosastraat), Mural Otter with Dom Tower (Otterstraat 116) and Mural Kalymnosdreef (Kalymnosdreef). Of course, there is so much more to see.

The Mural of the Bookshelf is painted by Jan de Man @janisdeman, and Deef Feed @deeffeed. The artists asked local residents about their favorite books, which resulted in a painting with 49 book covers in seven different languages.

Another interesting mural is The Otter with the Dom Tower that has appeared in 2013. It is a life-sized work of art featuring an otter that has graced the facade of the building on the corner of Otterstraat in Utrecht. The work was made by Robert-Jan Brink, also known as the Verfdokter. He was inspired by earlier works of art on the wall and decided to combine everything in one large, colorful work.

Other outstanding locations to check in your Utrecht exploration 1e Daalsedijk, Dorbeendreef, Monicahof 95, and Westplein. Certainly, more will pop up if you decide to dig for other locations.

Arhnem

Next would be Arhnem. It is somehow an obscure city in the central part of the Netherlands and yet one of the hidden gems of the street art culture. It is the birthplace of some of the most beautiful murals and outdoor art you’ve ever seen. It is also the host of one of the special street art events in the country, namely the World Steet Painting Festival.

This annual festival features both Dutch and international artists and consists of five days of live-action street painting in a two-month exhibition in the city of Arnhem. Moreover, if you would like to explore the best paths to street artwork in the Netherlands you could also use this website.

It is easy to navigate the map and it would pinpoint the places you would most likely enjoy exploring. For example, Boterdijk is somewhere you’d like to go because it is a central spot for different types of art.

Rotterdam

Last but not least, street art in Rotterdam is more than gorgeous. Rotterdam is certainly one of the locations in which you can explore not only street art but modern architecture. The city doesn’t fit with the traditional Dutch architecture because of the World War II bombings. Certainly, now it is one of the most unique places to visit in the Netherlands. It has so much to offer to anyone interested in street art or just Dutch culture in general.

You could easily find murals by local artist Nina Valkhoff @ninapelirroja who has created some of the most famous pieces in the Netherlands. Another artist to be on the lookout for is Danny Rumbl @dannyrumbl. Their art could be found in Rotterdam but also across Europe. And if looking up specific artists and discovering locations on your own could be rather tedious, there is a very easy way to explore the city. Rewriters have created a digital app functioning as a tour guide and curator for street art and artists.

Polya Pencheva obtained her master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Groningen and the Netherlands and likes to talk about traveling, entertainment, street art, and innovation in her stories. During her free time, she enjoys playing board games and reading. Her favorite superhero is Spider-Man and she believes that with great power comes great responsibility. The way to her heart is black coffee, a good book and some chocolate.