The best museums in Rotterdam

Current & upcoming museum and art exhibitions

The best museums in Rotterdam

Rotterdam is a bubbly mix of innovative architecture, lively festivals and challenging art and culture. The many exhibitions in top museums such as the Kunsthal Rotterdam and the Nederlands Fotomuseum are well worth a visit. For those that love art, don’t miss this top ten of museums and art institutions in Rotterdam. Or check out all museums and art institutions in Rotterdam.

1. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen will undergo a necessary long-term renovation from May 2019. During this Transit period, eight institutions and museums across Rotterdam will be holding exhibitions with works of art from the museum collection under the title ‘Boijmans Next Door’. The collection will also be presented abroad by means of touring exhibitions. In the meantime, construction of the Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen – the world’s first publicly accessible art depot – continues apace and this landmark adjoining the museum is set to open on November 6 2021.

Depot Boijmans van Beuningen

Depot Boijmans van Beuningen

Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is the world’s first publicly accessible art storage facility. The depot is located next to Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Museumpark in Rotterdam. Visitors can see the result of 172 years of collecting. More than 151,000 objects housed together, arranged in fourteen storage compartments with five different climates. Next to the objects, all the activities that go into preserving and managing a collection are on open view in the building.

Discover the Depot!

2. Kunsthal Rotterdam

The Kunsthal Rotterdam is an icon of modern architecture and was designed by the Rotterdam agency OMA/Rem Koolhaas. The building is located on the edge of the beautiful Museumpark and Westzeedijk. There are always several – large and small – exhibitions at a time, from old masters to contemporary artists, from innovative designers to engaging photographers. Stop for a snack or a drink at the Kunsthal Café.

3. Nederlands Fotomuseum

The Nederlands Fotomuseum is the national museum of photography with an impressive collection of more than 5.5 million images. The museum shows photography in all its facets. Historical and contemporary photography, Dutch and international, alternate. In recent years, work by photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Nan Goldin, Lewis Hine, Alfredo Jaar, Josef Koudelka and Viviane Sassen was presented in large exhibitions.

4. Maritime Museum

The collection of the oldest shipping museum in the Netherlands has more than half a million maritime objects. There are various exhibitions including the Offshore Experience, a challenging search for energy at sea. Outside, on the quay in Leuvehaven, you can admire ships, cranes and other port objects from the period of 1850 to 1970.

5. Museum Rotterdam ‘40’45.NU

Unfortunately, Museum Rotterdam had to close its doors but Museum Rotterdam ‘40’45.NU near Coolhaven will remain open. Museum Rotterdam ‘40’45.NU can be described as an education centre about the Second World War in Rotterdam. The museum is mentioned in the Lonely Planet’s Pocket Rotterdam as one of the top sights.

6. Het Nieuwe Instituut

At Het Nieuwe Instituut, the Museum for Architecture, Design and Digital Culture presents temporary exhibitions with the theme of innovation. In addition to an archive and a library, there is a bookshop and Het Nieuwe Café, a lively museum café on the water. In 2015, Het Nieuwe Café won the Museum Glass 2015, the prize for the best museum café in the Netherlands. The Sonneveld House Museum next door, one of the best-preserved houses in the style of the Dutch branch of the International School of Modernism (Nieuwe Bouwen), is open to the public.

7. Wereldmuseum Rotterdam

The Wereldmuseum Rotterdam offers a mirror image of 130 years of collecting by Rotterdammers for Rotterdammers. The Wereldmuseum will be optimised and renewed until the autumn of 2019. In the meantime, the doors of the museum are open and it showcases small exhibitions and activities. During the renovation the museum can be visited for free.

8. TENT and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art

TENT is an exhibition space for contemporary Rotterdam art. Through a varied programme, TENT focuses on relevant and current developments in contemporary art, connecting the art of the city to what is happening in the world. The exhibition space is located in a monumental former school building on the Witte de Withstraat. The building is shared with the (Formerly known as) Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, one of the most important institutes for contemporary art in the Netherlands.

9. Natural History Museum Rotterdam

The Natural History Museum Rotterdam is a lovely Rotterdam museum that continues to amaze. The permanent collection of birds, mammals, fish, insects, shells and plants shows earth’s biodiversity in all its variety. You can see all the fossils that can be found in Dutch soil in the exhibition ‘Picked up, Fished out, Cut out’. The exhibition ‘Pure Resilience’ shows that the city is also nature. Eye-catchers are the skeleton of a sperm whale and the skeleton of elephant Ramon. With famous dead-animals-with-a-story such as the Domino sparrow, the Second Chamber Mouse and the CERN marten, the museum also attracts international attention and public.

10. Chabot Museum

The Chabot museum is a small museum with a varied international exhibition programme. The Chabot Museum manages one of the most important collections of painter and sculptor Henk Chabot (1894-1949), a Dutch expressionist. As a painter of farmers and horticulturists, the Dutch landscape and in the war years of refugees and people in hiding, Chabot has his own place in Dutch modern art. The museum is housed in the monumental white villa dating from 1938, which, like the Sonneveld House, the Van Nelle Factory and the Feyenoord Stadium, is one of the highlights of the Dutch branch of the International School of Modernism (Nieuwe Bouwen) period.

Art in public spaces: street art & sculptures

Art in public spaces: street art & sculptures

The public spaces in Rotterdam are filled with art. While you’re out for a walk, you could come across sculptures of Rodin, Henry Moore and Picasso. These are interspersed with contemporary art by national and international artists and street art from the hip hop scene. Get inspired and discover the many works of art!

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A visual arts and culture organisation based in Rotterdam
Contour Gallery

Contour Gallery

A gallery for contemporary art with a focus on photography and sculptures
Garage Rotterdam

Garage Rotterdam

An exhibition centre for contemporary art in the city centre of Rotterdam