Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam

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Founded in 1874, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (lit. Municipal Museum Amsterdam) is a museum for classic modern and contemporary art in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It has been housed on the Paulus Potterstraat, next to Museum Square Museumplein and to the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum and the Concertgebouw, in Amsterdam Zuid since 1895. The original red brick, Neo-Renaissance style building was designed by architect Adriaan Willem Weissman. The museum is currently being renovated and enlarged, and expects the grand reopening in 2012.

The collection contains some 90,000 objects from a variety of disciplines. Highlights of the collection include The Beanery by Edward Kienholz and works by Kazimir Malevich, Bauhaus and De Stijl. Since 1909, the Stedelijk has been devoted to collecting thought-provoking contemporary art, later augmenting its collection with photography and design objects. In the course of the last century, the Stedelijk Museum became renowned as one of the world's most influential museums for twentieth-century art. The collection rivals that of the Centre Pompidou and MoMA. Since its inception, the Stedelijk Museum has consistently reflected new currents and developments in art and design in both its exhibition and acquisitions policy. Today, education is a prominent aspect of museum policy, which is evident from the Stedelijk's emphasis on innovative and classic modern presentations. The Bertolt Brecht quotation "It is democratic to turn 'the small circle of connoisseurs' into a large circle of connoisseurs" embodies the Stedelijk's vision.


The museum collection holds almost 90,000 objects (current on 25 February 2010), collected since 1874. With important clusters and cores focusing on De Stijl, Bauhaus, Pop Art and CoBrA and, more recently, Neo-Impressionism, the collection represents virtually every significant movement in art and design of the 20th and 21st centuries. The Stedelijk also has a comprehensive collection of drawings and paintings by Kazimir Malevich. Key pieces by Post-Impressionists Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh exemplify art from the late 19th century. The collection is sub-divided into the following disciplines:

  • Painting 4,395
  • Sculpture 1,654
  • Installation 211
  • Moving image and sound 622
  • Prints and drawings 19,678
  • Posters 19,322
  • Photography 10,880
  • Graphic design 19,450
  • Industrial design 5,322
  • Artist books 4,253
  • Lucebert archive 122


The museum collection holds a number of outstanding artworks.

Artist Title Year Materials Image
Edward Kienholz The Beanery. 1965 Assemblage
Paul Cézanne La Montagne Sainte-Victoire. ca. 1888 Oil on canvas
Gerrit Rietveld Red and Blue chair. 1918–1923 Painted and lacquered wood
Henri Matisse La perruche et la sirène. 1952 / 1953 Collage on paper mounted on canvas
Kazimir Malevich Hieratic suprematist cross. 1920–1927 Oil on canvas
Marlene Dumas Barbie (With Pearl Necklace). 1997 Color lithograph on paper
Marcel Duchamp La boîte-en-valise. 1936-1941 / 1941-1949 Assemblage
Barnett Newman Who’s Afraid of Red, Yellow and Blue III. 1967–1968 Oil on canvas
Rineke Dijkstra Kolobrzeg, Polen, 26 juli 1992. 1992 Color photographic print on paper mounted on aluminum
Gerrit Willem Dijsselhof De Parelhoenders. 1894 / ca. 1900-1902 Carved wood and batik-printed calico
Ettore Sottsass Mi Accordo. 1992 Poured, glazed ceramics
Pablo Picasso Femme assise au chapeau en forme de poisson. 1942 Oil on canvas
Auguste Rodin Jean d’Aire. 1884–1886 Cast bronze
Man Ray Noire et blanche. 1926–1928 Silver gelatin print
Ron Arad Oh void 2. 2004
Jackson Pollock Reflection of the Big Dipper. 1947 Oil on canvas
Andy Warhol Mao. 1972 Lithographic print on paper
Piet Mondriaan Composition no. IV , with red, blue and yellow. 1929 Oil on canvas
Marina Abramovic - Ulay Breathing out - Breathing in (performance 10). 1977 Video
A.M. Cassandre Droste Cacao. ca.1929 Enameled metal



The Stedelijk Museum opened its doors in 1895, in the Neo-Renaissance building designed by architect Adriaan Willem Weissman. The construction was financed by dowager S.A. Lopez Suasso-de Bruyn and the heirs of the merchant banker C.P. van Eeghen, among others. They bequeathed their collections to the museum. The building housed a number of collections including militaria of the Amsterdam militia, Asiatic art, the Museum of Chronometry and the Medical-Pharmaceutical Museum. The Association for Forming a Public Collection of Contemporary Art also regularly held exhibitions here.


The museum first began to collect art in 1909. P.A. Regnault donated a number of pieces by renowned artists such as Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky and Pablo Picasso. In 1934, the Museum for Modern Applied Art was also housed in the same building. Today, the Stedelijk has one of the world's finest collections of art and design objects, with groundbreaking designers including Marcel Wanders, Ettore Sottsass and Studio Job. During the Second World War, the Stedelijk collection and that of the Amsterdams Historisch Museum, were transferred for safekeeping to a bunker in the sand-hills near Santpoort. Museum staff took turns keeping watch. Director Willem Sandberg only just managed to evade arrest; in 1943, when a German search party was sent to apprehend him, Sandberg fled by bicycle into the dunes. Despite the upheavals of war, the Stedelijk continued to hold exhibitions.


Outstanding works by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Henri Matisse were added to the collection at the end of the 1940s and 1950s. During this time, the Stedelijk also acquired artworks by De Stijl and related international movements such as Russian Constructivism and Bauhaus. In 1954, the annex known as the 'Sandberg Wing' was built to accommodate experimental art; the annex was demolished in 2006. The demolition got off to a symbolic start: council member Carolien Gehrels threw a stone through one of the windows, causing a storm of protest in the press. The museum's famous CoBrA collection, dating from the 1950s, was augmented, and is now one of the museum's rich and exciting core collections. In 1958, Sandberg acquired a unique group of works by Russian artist Kazimir Malevich. In the same year, Sandberg began acquiring photography for the museum’s collection; the Stedelijk was the first western European museum for modern art to collect photography. The collection includes seminal photographers of both the Dutch and international avant-garde in the interbellum period (such as Erwin Blumenfeld, László Moholy-Nagy and Man Ray), an extensive selection of post-war Dutch photographers (including Eva Besnyö, Ed van der Elsken and Cas Oorthuys), artist portraits, photojournalism and autonomous fine art photography from the 1970s onward.


In the 1960s, New York became the most influential international centre for the fine arts. Museums began exhibiting the Abstract Expressionist work of Willem de Kooning, the Color Field painting of Barnett Newman and the sculpture of minimalist artist Carl Andre, while Pop Art flourished with artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Video art was also coming into its own and, in the early 1970s, the museum made its first acquisitions of video work by European artists including Dibbets and Gilbert & George. Today, the collection of video art contains around 900 works and installations by Nam June Paik, Bill Viola and Bruce Nauman. In the 1980s and 1990s, the accent shifted to include South America and, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Ilya Kabakov's impression of a Russian school library, Skolnaje Biblijoteka (1995), is one such example. In 2001, a remarkable group of drawings by Kazimir Malevich and other Russian avant-garde artists from the collection of the Khardzhiev-Chaga Cultural Centre enriched the museum's collection of Russian art. At the end of 2003, the Adriaan Willem Weissman building was closed at the insistence of the fire department and renovation work could begin. The Stedelijk took up temporary residence in the Post CS Building where it would remain for 4.5 years, until the building had to be returned, empty and stripped. [2] The SMCS period was one of great activity and a profusion of exhibitions. In 2006, debates and lectures were organized in the context of the exhibition 'Mapping the City' which explored the relationship of artists to the city. A space was created – 'Docking Station' – for monthly presentations of work by emerging artists. In 2008, 'Other voices, other rooms', an exhibition highlighting the video work of Andy Warhol, was a huge success, drawing 600,000 visitors. 2005 marked another watershed during this time, when the museum established a partnership with The Broere Charitable Foundation; on behalf of the Monique Zajfen Collection, the museum acquires contemporary European art works, which are placed with the museum on long-term loan.

2008 - 2009

From late 2008, the Stedelijk was undergoing major construction and described as a 'museum without walls'. In responding to this situation, an innovative and dynamic project, 'Stedelijk goes to Town' was announced allowing the museum to continue its strong visual presence within the city of Amsterdam. The project ran until the latter half of 2009 and featured a series of workshops, lectures and presentations in various locations throughout Amsterdam.

2010 - Present

Temporary Stedelijk

In August 2010 until January 2011, the Stedelijk Museum opened its doors with a unique program called The Temporary Stedelijk in the restored, yet unfinished historical building. After the success of welcoming 'art, artists and the public' back through its doors, the Stedelijk has continued with this temporary program announcing, Temporary Stedelijk 2-which opened March 2011 and focuses on the renowned collection of modern and contemporary art and design. The exhibition showcases the breadth of the museum’s collection and on show are works by Piet Mondrian, Kazimir Malevich, Charley Toorop, Henri Matisse, Donald Judd, Willem De Kooning, Yves Klein and Bruce Nauman, among others. As selections from the collections are presented on a rotating basis, returning visitors will have the opportunity to see different works over the coming months. Distinctive aspects of the collection are highlighted in two thematic presentations: Recollections and TV as….

To encourage exploration and expand upon the content of the exhibition, the Stedelijk will continue its multi-faceted program of activities and events comprising lectures, symposia, performances, film evenings and other events.

To date the museum is still under reconstruction and a date for the official reopening has still not been announced, however the temporary programmes give visitors a chance to experience art in the Stedelijk's historic settings.

The Digital Stedelijk

Augmented Reality tours

In early 2010, in conjunction with multidisciplinary communications and design firm Fabrique and AR company Layar the Stedelijk launches the development of augmented reality tours or 'ARtours'. Using a smartPhone, visitors can enjoy all kinds of extra stories and visuals about the museum collection. In the final phase of the project (at the end of 2011), the public will be invited to add their own stories, photos and other information about the collection to the open source platform.

Digital Archive Material

The museum embarks on digitalizing its historical archives (1895–1980) in 2009. The archives contain correspondence from the directors and details about exhibitions and acquisitions, among other things. It comprises some 1,500,000 documents distributed over 7,000 files. The paper archive has been officially transferred to the Amsterdam city archive but will remain with the Stedelijk throughout the digitalization process. The use of state-of-the-art software provides full text searches of all documents; a systematic index relating to different topics will be provided on the cover of each document. Fuzzy logic will search for a document matching the given terms and some variation around them, so users will find the information they want without needing to enter precise search commands. For example, a search for details of an exhibition on the library site will retrieve the accompanying catalogue, plus documents that have been scanned into the archive. The information can be printed or saved in PDF format. This large-scale project began in November 2009 and will continue for three years. The project is part of a larger digitalization plan that, apart from the archive, involves digitalizing and making accessible visual material, moving image and Stedelijk publications. In all cases digitally reformatted or born-digital material will be offered through a variety of search portals and in different combinations, on or off the Stedelijk website.

Stedelijk goes to Town

With the groundbreaking project 'Stedelijk goes to Town', the museum without walls struck out in an entirely different direction between 2008 and 2010. While at the Post CS building, the museum began to explore and redefine its relationship with its communities. This found expression in a number of (exploratory) exhibitions such as 'Mapping the Studio'. 'Stedelijk goes to Town' is a continuation of this program. The museum also remained a visible presence with exhibitions of highlights from the collection in different locations, often as the guest of other museums in Amsterdam. Exhibitions

  • ‘Druksel prints’ by Werkman

From 11-08-’08 through 12-10-’08. With work by Dutch printer, artist print-maker and typographer H.N. Werkman. Guest venue: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

  • Holy Inspiration

Religion and spirituality in modern art. From 13-12-’08 through 19-04-’09. With work by Mondriaan, Malevich, Chagall, Schnabel, Rothko, Bacon, Gilbert & George, Mike Kelley and Marlene Dumas. Guest venue: Nieuwe Kerk, Amsterdam;

  • Avantgardes ‘20/’60

From 26-06-’09 through 23-08-’09. With work by Pablo Picasso, Mondriaan, Luciano Fontana, Yves Klein, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol and others. Guest venue: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam;

  • The Living, 10 days of video art

From 24-10-'09 through 01-11-'09. With work by Peter Bogers, Sam Taylor Wood, Marijke van Warmerdam, Douglas Gordon, Ulay and Marina Abramovic and Job Koelewijn. Guest venue: Huize Frankendael, Amsterdam

Construction Cabin on tour

The Construction Cabin – designed by Niels van Eijk and Miriam van der Lubbe – is a mobile pavilion for workshops, performances, lectures, walks, discussions and consultations. It was also an opportunity for the public to ask questions, including: ‘what do people expect of a museum without walls’? Between October 2008 and December 2009 the Construction Cabin visited many neighborhoods in Amsterdam. The cabin has now become part of the collection.

Stedelijk in West

The Cook, the Farmer, His Wife and Their Neighbour. Van 18-04-’09 through 27-09-’09. A project by Slovenian artist Marjetica Potrč (1953) and Wilde Westen, a group of young designers, architects and cultural producers. They explored the history of Nieuw West as a garden suburb, and encouraged the re-use of urban green spaces through active community participation. Visibly absent A collaborative project of the Stedelijk Museum, the Rietveld Academy and the Sandberg Institute. Students respond to iconic works from the Stedelijk collection; the results are visible at unexpected locations throughout the city.


A project that began in September 2008, with 15 young Amsterdam residents who give advice to the museum and organize activities for other young people. The project has attracted enormous attention from other museums, which are interested in launching similar projects.

Fencing the museum

Seven young artists give a fresh face to the 108-meter long construction-hoarding surround the Stedelijk Museum, inspired by iconic artworks from the collection. June 2008 – September 2009.

The building

The ‘old’ Stedelijk

Adriaan Willem Weissman, architect of the city of Amsterdam, designed the building for the museum in 1895. With its design of the upper façade and tower in a combination of pale stone and red brick, the exterior references 16th century Dutch Renaissance architecture. In 1938, Sandberg had the interior walls painted white, creating ‘white cube’ gallery spaces. When he had the opportunity some years later, in 1954, a largely glass extension arose, flanking the Van Baerlestraat. It came to be referred to as the ‘Sandberg Wing’. Sandberg also replaced the museum’s heavy, rather uninviting doors by a glass entrance.

The ‘new’ Stedelijk

Due to poor maintenance and the lack of modern facilities, including climate control, the building was no longer able to meet today’s standards. Nor did it have the space to feature the highlights of the collection on permanent display; since its beginnings, over a century ago, the collection had vastly increased. The art depots and workshops had also become far too cramped. In 2004, a jury awarded Benthem Crouwel architects the renovation and construction contract for their daring design for the new building, fondly referred to as the ‘bathtub’. The new Stedelijk will have an exhibition surface area of 8000 m2; double its previous gallery space.

Construction delays

At the time of the plans designed by architect Siza, the reopening was scheduled for 2007. In 2004, when a new competition was held it became clear that this date was not achievable. Although the renovated original building was completed in early 2010, conditions were not suitable for exhibiting artworks because there was no climate control system; this will be installed in the new wing. The press poured criticism on the delays. A campaign by Dutch cultural entrepreneur Otto Nan, ‘Stedelijk Do Something’, urging people text their disappointment at the delays, drew considerable media attention and a huge response from social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Otto Nan hoped that what he referred to as an ‘amicable coup’ would attract political attention with an occupation of Museumplein. Moreover, by sending SMS messages, people could raise money to help the museum re-launch a little sooner.

The new Stedelijk

After the planned renovation and expansion, the highlights of the collection will be on display in the old building (in a series of changing presentations). The new wing (fondly referred to as the ‘bathtub’) will primarily host experimental, compelling exhibitions and film and video art. The exhibition program includes monographic exhibitions about Ron Arad and Mike Kelly. The re-opening, previously heralded for spring 2010 [13], is now expected in 2011. The restored original building will go ahead and open in 2010.[14]


Originally a municipal body, the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam attained the status of stichting, or independent foundation, on 1 January 2006, and is accountable to a Supervisory Board.


  • Jan Eduard van Someren Brand (1895–1906)

Conservator and first head of the Stedelijk Museum. Designed the period rooms and the presentation of the collection of militaria of the Amsterdam militia in the museum.

  • Cornelis Baard (1906–1936)

Conservator and head as per 1905; officially became director in 1920. Founder of the municipal collection of modern contemporary art and design. Devised a dynamic exhibition policy and forged connections with important lending institutions.

  • David Roëll (1936–1945)

Modernized the museum, hosted large-scale, international exhibitions, purchased a number of extraordinary international modern artworks and adroitly steered the museum through the period of German occupation.

  • Willem Sandberg (1945–1963)

Progressive exhibition-maker, graphic designer, collector of international (classic) modern and contemporary art. Made exhibitions about design early on, with Mart Stam, Gerrit Rietveld and others and as conservator, long before his directorship, had the interior walls of the museum painted white. Sandberg’s forward-thinking policy secured his international reputation as the Stedelijk’s most charismatic leader.

  • Edy de Wilde (1963–1985)

Reorganized and professionalized what had, up to then, been a somewhat anarchic museum; focused on contemporary art of the 1960s onward. Besides an intensive contemporary art exhibition policy, he organized groundbreaking, exciting exhibitions of western European and American art of his time.

  • Wim Beeren (1985–1993)

Emphasized art from the USSR, eastern Europe and Latin America. His exhibition program highlighted emerging American art, art historical themes and artists of the pre-war avant-garde like Oskar Schlemmer and Malevich. He also developed a versatile acquisition policy. Beeren drew up the first plans for expanding the museum, with firm of architects Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates.

  • Rudi Fuchs (1993–2003)

Presented the collection in the exhibition series ‘Couplets’; Fuchs displayed the works in an a-historical, lyrical-associative dialogue that was applauded by the international art community. He continued the acquisition policy of De Wilde and Beeren, expanding it to include Central European art. He developed collection presentations with a number of guest curators including Dutch poet and writer Gerrit Komrij and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. Fuchs commissioned Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza to develop new expansion plans for the Stedelijk Museum.

  • Hans van Beers (ad interim) (2003–2005)

Prepared the museum for attaining independent status and, after the closure of the historic building on the Paulus Potterstraat, found temporary alternative premises near Amsterdam Central Station: the SMCS. During his tenure, the expansion plans and the selection of Benthem Crouwel Architects became definitive.

  • Gijs van Tuyl (2005–2009)

Under his directorship, the internal organization of the museum became more professional and more oriented towards the public. He injected new impetus into the acquisition and exhibition program and ensured that programming in the SMCS reflected current trends in contemporary art. When the SMCS closed in 2008 and until the reopening of the museum, he maintained the Stedelijk’s visible presence in the city with a dynamic program in a variety of locations, and with the Construction Cabin (part of the project Stedelijk goes to Town) which traveled through Amsterdam.

  • Ann Goldstein (Started January 2010)

The first international director of the Stedelijk, and the first woman at the helm.


In the last two years, the Stedelijk Museum was the recipient or awarding body of the following important prizes:


  • Abraaj Capital Art Prize (2009) : awarded to Jelle Bouwhuis and Hala Elkoussy. Their project will be featured at Art Dubai in 2011.
  • Turing Toekenning (2009) : for the Mike Kelley exhibition which will be on view in the new building.
  • Ding! Prijs (2008) : for the art-minded game A Split Second devised by the Stedelijk and SubmarineChannel.


  • The Vincent Award (2008)  : Deimantas Narkevicius (1964, Utena, Lithuania) is the winner of this year’s edition. Peter Friedl caused quite an uproar by backing out of the contest at the last minute. He was critical of the composition of the jury, slating it as paying lip service to democracy. The next edition will be held in 2010, highlighting art that addresses contemporary social issues.

Sponsors and founders


  • Ahold
  • Bank Giro Loterij
  • Gemeente Amsterdam
  • Mondriaan Stichting
  • SNS REAAL Fonds
  • Turing Foundation
  • Vereniging Rembrandt
  • VSBfonds


  • ABN-Amro
  • Audi
  • Schiphol Group
  • Tejin
  • Van den Ende Foundation


  • Joosten, J.M., ‘Collectie 19de-eeuwse schilderkunst uit het Stedelijk Museum te Amsterdam’, Enschede, 1973
  • De Wilde, E., ‘-63/73 : De collectie van het Stedelijk Museum 1963 - 1973 : aanwinsten schilder- and beeldhouwkunst = The Stedelijk Museum collection : acquisitions 1963 - 1973 painting and sculpture’ [exhibition Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 1974], Amsterdam, 1974
  • De Wilde, E., ‘74/78 : de collectie van het Stedelijk Museum 1974 - 1978 : [aanwinsten 1974 - 1978 schilder- and beeldhouwkunst] = The Stedelijk Museum collectie 1974 - 1978 : [acquisitions 1974 - 1978 painting and sculpture]’, Amsterdam, 1980
  • Grevestein, A. van, Grootheest, H. van, Grootheest, T., Pieters, D., ‘Aspecten van de Nederlandse schilderkunst : een keuze uit de collectie van het Stedelijk Museum = Aspects of Dutch painting : a selection from the Stedelijk Museum collection’ [exhibition Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 1980], Amsterdam, 1980
  • Kempers, P., ‘Binnen was buiten’, [about the Sandberg Wing], Amsterdam, 2010
  • López, S., ‘In de ban van de band I: de media in het medium, videotapes uit de collectie van het Stedelijk Museum’, Amsterdam, 1984
  • Grootheest, T. van, Lubbers, F., Wiarda, D., ‘Vormgeving 1900-1984, een keuze uit de collectie van het Stedelijk’ Amsterdam, 1985
  • Roodenburgh-Schadd, C., 'Goed modern werk': de collectie Regnault in het Stedelijk [exhibition Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 1995], Zwolle, 1995
  • Ruiter, J. de, Imanse, G., ‘Russische avant-garde, een keuze uit de collectie van de Stichting Internationaal Centrum Khardzhiev-Chaga = Russian avant-garde, a selection from the collection of the Foundation International Centre Khardzhiev-Chaga’ [exhibition Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 2001], Amsterdam, 2001
  • ‘Het meubelboek : Nederlands meubelontwerp 1986-1996’, The Hague, 1996
  • Imanse, G., Blotkamp, C., ‘Leporello : een reis door de collectie, 1874–2004’, Amsterdam, 2005
  • ‘Collectieplan 2006 - 2007 : Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam’, Amsterdam, 2006
  • ‘Collectieplan 2008 - 2009 : Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam’, Amsterdam : 2007
  • Visser, H., Suermondt, R., ‘Fotografie in het Stedelijk : de geschiedenis van een collectie’, Amsterdam, 2009

See also

  • List of Dutch painters
  • List of Dutch artists
  • Culture of the Netherlands

External links