The city has Rotterdam is well-known for its lively art scene, I should know as an Arts and Culture student. The pace at which new and original projects are popping up is unstoppable these days, it can be hard to keep up since there are also many older organizations that are worth a visit. Of course there are big must-sees you will find in any tourist guide such as Boijmans and De Kunsthal, however there is so much more out there! Here are my picks for the most interesting local art organizations to visit instead of a big museum.
Showcasing young talent
Showroom MAMA is a showroom hiding in plain sight on the busy Witte de Withstraat. It’s a platform for young talent to develop through visual arts. They’re part of Kunstblock, which is a collaboration between several art organizations at Witte de With. This makes MAMA perfect for an artistic day, as you can visit some of the other institutions while you’re at Witte de With as well (I personally recommend TENT and V2!).
MAMA has performances and exhibitions in all shapes and sizes, and will always surprise you in one way or another. What I like most about this place is that their exhibitions are often related to contemporary issues or ideas, which makes it very interesting and relatable. Next to that the people working there, whether full-time employees or volunteers, can always help explain the exhibition and are open to discussions about the works displayed.
Herenplaats – outsider art
The art world can be a pretty harsh place to be in (trust me I’m an art student), especially if you don’t fit the status quo. Herenplaats has opened its arms exactly for the people that might not seem fit in at first glance. In this gallery/atelier you will find art created by people with a mental disability or a psychiatric background. Herenplaats creates art education especially for them, giving them a chance to develop their artistic skills in a way they couldn’t have at a regular art school.
Lucky for us it is not just a school, it’s also a gallery! You can visit the gallery during the week to see the new works of the students, or you can do a workshop there. The art that is shown in the gallery is also for sale! Don’t forget to check out our Spotter Rénia’s post on Herenplaats!
Theater Walhalla – Theater for locals by locals
Theater Walhalla was started as a project by two locals, Rachèl van Olm & Harry-Jan Bus. The performances you can find here (they have 3 locations in Rotterdam) have a focus on communicating with the visitors and on accessibility. In their performances you can find both established actors and newcomers. For established actors they provide an opportunity to test their shows, and for newcomers it’s a place to get experience.
Their shows often have a way of really connecting and communicating with the audience, and will make get you thinking afterward. With their diverse performance they wish to boost the artistic and cultural offer of Rotterdam, and its diversity. They’re a true hub to meet locals and discuss the city of Rotterdam and Theater Walhalla.
A peek into the South
Gemaal op Zuid is an art gallery in the Afrikaanderwijk in the South of Rotterdam, a place often overlooked when visiting Rotterdam. South can have a bad reputation sometimes, which is mainly based on the past. The South truly has more to offer than you might expect, which is why this is a great place to visit! The gallery has a focus on the neighbourhood, and therefore tries to reflect it and also contribute to the vibe and economy of the area. It’s a great place to meet artists and locals from the area.
They don’t only have art events, but also music and food related events and other types of gatherings. It’s not just a place for art, but mainly a place for community. If you want to check this place out it’s probably a good idea to check their facebook page!
Roodkapje – like being at your cool, artsy friends’ place
This place has been around for quite a while and is known to be an innovator in the Rotterdam art scene. Roodkapje opened in 2000 at the famous Witte de Withstraat as an exhibition space, studio, fashion boutique and hair & makeup salon, and moved around throughout Rotterdam whilst experimenting with their concept. They are not only about organizing art exhibitions, a big part of their goal has always been to create a comfortable atmosphere, which is why there is also great food there (Burgertrut, yum!). They have succeeded in creating a chill living-room type vibe takes away the scariness of conceptual art, and make it more accessible to a wider audience.
Honestly, Roodkapje does too much to write it all down in a few sentences (they’re like that one friend who’s always busy and has a social life that makes your head spin), but check out their website or facebook to see any current events, you won’t be disappointed! I’m not always one to love conceptual art, as it can be a bit difficult to understand at times, but Roodkapje is the kind of place where everyone is welcome regardless of their artistic background.
Of course this is only the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a start! Don’t be shy to go out of your comfort zone and visit one of these (or all) organizations and let yourself be surprised! When talking about art, Rotterdam has so much to offer as long as you’re willing to look for it.
Take a peek at our Rotterdam cityblog for more local spots.