Netherlands: 12 Museums, 6 days, 3 cities


This past week was my core course travel week, so I was off to the Netherlands with my graphic design class! We left bright and early last Sunday (so early that there were still people out partying when I walked to the metro station with my suitcase lol), and spent a full 6 days in the country. I just got back late Friday night (to a lot more people partying, but this time to celebrate the release of a Christmas beer... had to navigate the crowded streets with my suitcase at midnight so it was an interesting welcome home to say the least) and have finally had time to breathe and reflect on the hectic but amazing week. I took many photos, so here are some from museums, the cities, and (of course) the food!


MUSEUMS


Since all of us on the trip were artists, we visited MANY museums, 12 to be specific. That number might not sound like much at first, but think about how much energy and time it takes to walk through one museum, now multiply that by 12. Yeah, it's a lot.


All the museums were really interesting in their own ways, some I was more interested in the exhibitions, others the architecture, and some the visual identity. That made tackling 12 museums a little less difficult, I got to focus on different aspects at each location. Here's a rundown on all the museums we visited (all which I would definitely recommend visiting!!).


AMSTERDAM

FOAM Photography Museum - They have a wonderful collection of photographs, and are currently featuring a large exhibition on Masahisa Fukase's life works. My favorite exhibition was "Double Enclosure" by Paul Mpagi Sepuya.

Stedelijk Museum - This museum had so. much. art!! I really enjoyed the large breadth of artwork they featured, including works by Mondrian and an exhibition of works by Lily van der Stokker which I fell in love with. I feel like I could spend months in this museum, but alas, we only had two hours.

Van Gogh Museum - There were a lot of people here! But the museum was still an incredible experience. I loved how they set up the museum, each floor takes you through his life, and you get to see his progression as an artist and human. They don't let you take photos in the museum so this is the only picture I have, but all the artwork in there is incredible and you learn so much about Van Gogh!

EYE Film Institute - EYE is an archive, theater, and museum all in one really cool building. They have a fun and interesting exhibition on the history of film, screen some of the best films from across the globe, and house installations from visiting artists. They are currently showing an exhibit put together for EYE by Ryoji Ikeda, a sound artist, electronic composer, and visual artist. This exhibition is hands down my favorite one from the entire trip, I really enjoyed his work and have never experienced a space like that before.

Anne Frank House - No photos were allowed in this museum, but I did sneak this one picture of the doorway to the annex that was hidden behind the bookshelf. The museum was laid out incredibly, they really managed to tell her story in an educational, respectful, and emotional way. I remember reading her diary in middle school, so it was crazy actually walking through the spaces her and the others lived in. It is a stark reminder of just how harsh and cruel this world can be to even the kindest and most innocent souls.

UTRECHT

Centraal Museum - Located in an old monastery, this museum houses a large collection of Dutch artwork, specifically from the city of Utrecht. It had a lot of interesting exhibitions while there, but my favorite was "The Line Up," focused on the power of drawing. It featured many gorgeous drawings in various forms and was really inspiring to walk through. It definitely made me want to sketch and draw more!

Rietveld Schröderhuis - Designed in 1924 by Gerrit Rietveld for Truus Schröder, this unique house has become an icon of the De Stijl movement. It truly is groundbreaking architecture and was really interesting to see how the rooms change shape and can be opened and closed. I could never imagine living there though... there isn't much privacy and constantly moving around the walls would get annoying for me lol

ROTTERDAM

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen - This museum was so large! It has an incredible amount of artwork, spanning all different time periods and forms. I really enjoyed their collection of paintings and how the collection was arranged. There was a series of individual rooms all connecting, and each room featured an artist's works. The best part was that the rooms weren't organized in chronological order, so you'd skip around styles and time periods, making the experience more fun and freeing in my opinion. They also have a very cool, but overbearing visual identity. Their logo and colors are bold and fun at first, however I think it detracts from the art and focuses too much on the branding than the art.

Nederlands Fotomuseum Rotterdam - This photography museum was cool, I was just so exhausted by everything I had seem at Boijmans that I couldn't fully appreciate the whole museum. However, I did really enjoy the exhibition on Cas Oorthuys, a vintage photographer. After passing away, he left an archive of over half a million photos (!!!), so this exhibition is a selection from those archives.

Kunsthal Rotterdam - This is by far my favorite museum of the entire trip! Kunsthal actually doesn't identify as a museum though, rather as a "magic box." They don't house a permanent collection, so every exhibit is temporary, resulting in some really cool exhibits. My favorite was "Action <-> Reaction" featuring kinetic art from the past century. Kinetic art moves in one way or another and engages viewers senses differently than traditional art. There were so many wonderful installations and pieces! I felt like a kid in a candy store! Around every corner you would find ten more incredible pieces of art that were fun, engaging, and provocative. Another exhibition that I loved was "Surf Tribe" by Stephan Vanfleteren. It featured portraits of surfers from across the globe, breaking away from the traditional surfer stereotypes. There were so man incredible people photographed in the most gorgeous way. It was magical walking through and reading peoples' stories.

Het Nieuwe Institute - This institute is an architectural archive and exhibition space. They are currently showing architectural models for different contests and had an interesting exhibition on the art of archiving.

Huis Sonneveld - More cool architecture! This is another incredible house that was well before its time. Designed in the Dutch functionalist style in 1933, it is a luxurious, spacious, and airy house. We had a lot of fun exploring the house and seeing all of the bright colors and large windows. It's a really cool place, and I'm so glad we visited!

CITIES


I didn't realize just how much I would love the Netherlands! Amsterdam was high on my list of places to visit in Europe, so I knew I would love that city, but Utrecht and Rotterdam totally caught me by surprise. I knew nothing about these two cities (didn't even really know they existed), so I was shocked to see how much I loved them!


AMSTERDAM

As expected, Amsterdam was incredible. The city was honestly just mindblowingly beautiful. All the canals, gorgeous buildings, cute stores and restaurants... it was too good. The only downside was that it was rainy and windy for most of our time there, this picture is from the one good day of weather. We all want to visit the city again in the summertime, when it's warm and sunny, and we can explore more of the outdoor spaces of the city!


UTRECHT

This. City. Is. Amazing.

I had never heard of Utrecht before I read the itinerary for the trip, so I had no idea of what to expect. We only spent a few hours in this city, but that was more than enough time for me to fall in love with it. It's a college city (like Boston!) but has such a comfortable open feeling to it. There are so many wide canals, gorgeous little buildings, and large green spaces. I could 100% see myself living there. We visited a graphic design studio (Autobahn), saw the Centraal museum, and then explored and had lunch. It was a very short visit, but I would love to go back and spend more time there!


ROTTERDAM

Rotterdam is probably the most unusual European city I've visited. It was almost completely bombed during World War II and when they rebuilt, they focused on having innovative, interesting architecture. There are lots of skyscrapers and metal and glass facades, giving the city a very American feel. It has a really cool vibe and lots of fun little stores!


FOOD

This trip was really just a bunch of gorgeous art and delicious food! DIS provided breakfast and either dinner or lunch each day, and they picked out some really cool places for us to eat at! My friends and I are also all such foodies, that we visited a lot of cool stuff on our own two. Here's a highlight reel of some of my favorites!


FRIES

You can't go to the Netherlands and not get fries. They are just so incredibly good there! I did a thorough research on where to go for the best fries, and found Vleminckx Sausmeester, a shop in Amsterdam that has TWENTY-FIVE different sauces to top your fries!! It's a bit overwhelming to choose, but I ultimately decided on a Dutch classic, oorlog. Oorlog literally translates to "war" because it's considered to be a war of flavors in your mouth! It consists of a mixture of mayo, peanut sauce, and chopped onions. It is actually probably the most incredible fries experience I've ever had. 10/10 would recommend.


COOKIES

There is a famous cookie shop in Amsterdam called Van Stapele, where they actually have to limit each sale to only 7 cookies so they don't run out! They change the flavor each day, and when we stopped by it was a delicious dark chocolate cookie filled with white chocolate! We each bought a cookies and ate them right away to see if it was worth all the hype. It definitely was. These were hands down the best cookies I've ever tasted! They were still warm and gooey inside and so flavorful, but not too sweet!!!! Wow I'm really craving one now...


STROOPWAFELS

The Netherlands is famous for their delicious, flat waffles. I've had the packaged version in the US before, but had never tried fresh stroopwafels before. We found a famous old stroopwafel stand in Amsterdam and ordered them fresh! They are filled with warm caramel, and you can get them dipped in chocolate! It was so warm and gooey and delicious! I've never had a stroopwafel so good, and I don't think I'll find another one outside Amsterdam that could compare. Guess I'll just have to go back!


MINT TEA

On the first day, I ordered fresh mint tea at a coffee shop to warm up, however I had no idea just how good it would be! The fresh mint tea they serve really is fresh, because they just stick a bunch of mint leaves in to hot water and serve it to you! I drizzled honey over the leaves and let it seep for a bit. It was so so good! This is a common thing in the Netherlands too, I saw it in the menus of almost every restaurant and coffee shop! I really wish this was a thing in the states, because it's just so much better than a tea bag.



So there you have it, a quick roundup of the whirlwind trip to the Netherlands! There's still so much we saw and did that I didn't talk about in this post, but I didn't want to get too boring! If you're travelling to the Netherlands soon and want more food and museum recommendations, shoot me an email and I'll share more of my experiences with you!