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Rotterdam Art Week: DIY routes for ‘dummies’

Rotterdam Art Week: DIY routes for ‘dummies’

Choose a route through artistic Rotterdam during the Rotterdam Art Week!

Credits: Almicheal Fraay

Rotterdam Art Week: DIY routes for ‘dummies’

During the Rotterdam Art Week from 18 to 22 May, the city on the Maas is the epicentre of art, design and creative entrepreneurship. Where to go and what to see? In the whirlwind of exhibitions, installations, open studios and other activities, its hard to choose, so we developed five Do It Yourself routes. Follow one (or more) of these discover-it-yourself routes and you’ll see a good mix of beautiful and inspiring art, design and architecture. Follow them on foot, by public transport, by car, by VanMoof e-bike or take the MINI shuttle service: it’s easy to get around! Below we highlight two fantastic spots from each route that bear witness to Rotterdams innovative spirit and entrepreneurship. 

Route 1: Centre Noord/Oost

Unique exhibitions, loads of photography and young talent at The New Current and newcomers like HIM and GAEA Studio.  

Het Industriegebouw Modern (HIM)
Het Industriegebouw (HIG) ‘company collection’ is impressive and was assembled by owners Luuk and Esther Schotsman. With names like Robert Zandvliet, Sam Drukker, Harry Markusse, Sabine Marcelis, Iwan Smit, Jan van der Ploeg, Ramsy Nasr and Maarten Baas, it is also a collection that more and more people are keen to see, said Luuk. “The tours we organised were full in no time.” This is how the idea for HIM was born: Het Industriegebouw Modern, a monument for art and design. See the (literally) permanent collection of murals for yourself. 

Exhibition ‘Dear Future’ bij GÆA Studio in De Achtertuin
GÆA Studio is a Rotterdam-based photo studio, event and exhibition space in De Achtertuin on Kralingse Oostzeedijk, opened by photographer Zahra Reijs. She struggled with doing commissioned work and opened her own studio for creative productions, creating the space for her project and photo book Dear Future. Zahra: “I portray contemporary young people who dare to be themselves and see in them the generation of change.” A preview of her project can be seen during RAW. 

Route 2: Museum Park & more

A route through the cultural heart of Rotterdam, with the Witte de Withstraat, the Museum Park and hotspots like Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, as well as newcomers like ROOF-A and Weisbard. 

Solo exhibitions at ROOF-A 

Lobke Broos missed an international artistic meeting place in Rotterdam and decided to start ROOF-A in the Scheepvaartkwartier. It’s a platform and meeting place for artists, photographers, collectors and enthusiasts. Lobke Broos: “Our crossover between exhibition, connection and development is distinctive. Letting people enjoy art, supporting artists and connecting all of this are my main motivations.” During Rotterdam Art Week, you can see solo exhibition NOW+HERE by Frank van der Zalm, solo exhibition In Elements by Sjoerd Knibbeler and previews from Hans Broek and Seet van Hout at ROOF-A. 

Exhibition Hurry Up and Wait at Weisbard 

In the new Rotterdam neighbourhood Little C, writer and football critic Hugo Borst opened his own venue on Karl Weisbardstraat: Weisbard. Hugo: “I offer new, forgotten and unseen talent a platform, and actually even more than that.” You can also expect performances, lectures and ordinary ‘neighbourhood chats’ here, because “I want this to be a place where locals drop by”. Be sure to do so during Rotterdam Art Week and check out the Hurry Up and Wait photo exhibition by the photographer (and dEUS frontman) Tom Barman. 

Route 3: Design & Makers M4H Area

Here you will not only discover the energy of the makers and the development of the old harbour area, but also the OBJECT Rotterdam design fair (with newcomer Jewel Rotterdam), STEUR, Brutus, Huidenclub and Jungle Gym. 

Jewel Rotterdam during Object Rotterdam
27 jewellery designers and two jewellery design students will present themselves for the first time together at OBJECT Rotterdam under the umbrella of platform Jewel Rotterdam. They do so with both their own collections and a specially designed piece of jewellery for men. Jesler Muntendam is one of them. A difficult task, because who decides whether a piece of jewellery can be worn by a man or a woman?” Galerie Phoebus (on the Eendrachtsweg) is also organising a lecture programme about men’s jewellery with Jewel Talk. 


Brutus is being constructed in the M4H area of Rotterdam, where artist Joep van Lieshout has been building his empire for decades. This cultural centre is at least 7000 m2 and houses exhibition spaces, a place for workshops and education, studios, living/working spaces for artists and a sculpture garden in the outdoor area. This ‘artist-driven playground’ puts makers first. Here, artists show their work and visitors can experience Van Lieshout’s complete oeuvre for themselves. Under the title Obsessions, Brutus will present an exhibition of new work by L.A. Raven, an exhibition by new talent Alexandra Phillips and an installation by Atelier Van Lieshout until 29 May. 

Route 4: Van Nelle Fabriek & More

Alternate between the largest art fair in the Van Nelle Fabriek and various open studio visits, special exhibitions, pop-up exhibitions and newcomer Unity in Diversity.  

Watch artists in the Borgerstraat
There is an old school building in de Borgerstraat, just a few minutes away from the Art Rotterdam art fair. Every room is now a studio belonging to a graphic designer, photographer, ceramist, painter or graphic artist. It makes a lovely change to the big and somewhat serious art fair; you can see the places where art is made and the makers behind it in an informal setting.  

Art Market from Unity in Diversity at Weelde 

Unity in Diversity (UID) presents Art Market Rotterdam at Weelde during the Rotterdam Art Week. The stage is open to artists, young creatives, photographers and musicians, and different kinds of art are exhibited and sold at affordable prices. If you’re out and about with kids, then this is the place to be! In the artistic workshops (for 8 to 17-year-olds), they can put their (newly gained) inspiration to good use. Please register in advance.

Route 5: Visit bridges and islands

In Zuid you will find photographic masterpieces at Rotterdam Photo and Het Nederlands Fotomuseum, young artists at work (Putsebocht 3), contemporary murals and two inspiring islands (Tante Nino on the Noordereiland, Buitenplaats Brienenoord on the Eiland van Brienenoord). 

Tante Nino 

Georgian Nino Purtskhvanidze came to the Netherlands for the love of her life and filmmaker Pieter Jan Smit in 1998. Since 2011, Nino and Pieter Jan have been bringing the world to their doorstep on Rotterdam’s Noordereiland with Tante Nino: a gallery, place for performance and conversation and the cultural hotspot for the neighbourhood and the city. Nino: “The idea for this place was a logical result of what we do and what we love. Pieter Jan is a filmmaker, I’m a photographer and we both love good food, cooking and entertaining people.” She offers artists a new audience, she offers (local) residents a different view of art, and she makes sure it gets talked about. Sometimes musicians perform in De Doelen one night and in Tante Nino’s intimate living room setting the next. During RAW, you can see Face Your Fears, a ceramic project by Georgian-German artists Sophia Tabatadze and ceramist Nona Otarashvili-Becher. On Sunday there is a piano concert followed by a dinner to conclude the week. 

Murals Inc 

Various artists have been creating art in Rotterdam’s public spaces over the past few months. These were dragged as far as possible to Murals Inc. on the Piekstraat for the exhibition: …as an alternative to blah blahblahblah….  (based on a line of text by graffiti duo SAMO in the 1980s). This was recorded, and the video will be shown during the Rotterdam Art Week. 

These routes show just a small selection of what Rotterdam Art Week has to offer; to give you some direction, both literally and figuratively. Check out the detailed routes and the complete programme here. Enjoy! 

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