A day of culture Art on the streets of Rotterdam

Written by Lisanne van Beurden
Frontrunner

Fancy a day of culture in Rotterdam? A visit to a museum is always fun, but if you prefer to admire art while keeping your hard-earned money in your pocket, you can always just hit the streets. Our city centre is filled with modern and contemporary art.

Do not underestimate the beauty you can encounter in the public space of Rotterdam. Whether you walk around the glittering Depot of Boijmans van Beuningen in the Museum Park or stroll around the Witte de Withstraat and occasionally wander down a side street to spot the colourful street art. There is plenty to discover! You can even run into a real Picasso on the street...

To help you on your way, below you can find where you can discover the most beautiful works of art. Enjoy!

Blaak

Let's start with Blaak. A typical Rotterdam place with many famous buildings. But did you know that you can also find a lot of art here? Since September 2020, the work of art with the happy name 'Everyone is dead except us' by the Rotterdam artist Ben Zegers has been placed on the Binnenrotte. These gigantic aluminum feet of 7.5 meters high are not to be missed when you walk into the market.

Be sure to have a look in the Markthal, you're there anyway. In this iconic building you can see the impressive artwork 'Horn of Plenty'. If you look up you will see colourful flowers and fruits adorning the ceiling. With its 11,000 m2, this artwork is the largest in the Netherlands. No wonder this is also called the Sistine Chapel of Rotterdam!

Another interesting work of art that you can find in the Blaak area is the unusual work of art Ode to Marten Toonder (2002) for the Markthal, a tribute to cartoonist Marten Toonder, who turned 90 on May 2, 2002. The sculpture consists of a baroque clover-shaped sofa with four well-known characters from the Toonder comic.

Colourful flowers and fruits adorn the ceiling of the Markthal.

Witte de Withstraat

In the Witte de Withstraat you will find, in addition to the cosy bars and restaurants, amazing galleries with interesting exhibitions. There is also plenty of art on the street itself, such as the interactive Rotterdam Make It Happen artwork, designed by Daan Botlek. There is a good chance that you have come across this work of art on Instagram: many visitors become part of the work of art by climbing up the small steps and then happily having their picture taken.

But especially in the side streets of Witte de Withstraat you will come across the most beautiful gems. Murals enrich the sides of hip restaurants, cafes and hotels. Sometimes the artworks smile at you from the sidewalk, but sometimes you really have to go down the side street to find it.

One of the side streets where you can find a good piece is the Zwarte Paardenstraat, where the colourful artwork El Trotamundos by the Chilean street artist Jorge Kata Núnez is displayed on the wall. The depicted galloping horse wears a world map on his body and a peace dove on his face and represents freedom and global citizenship. El Trotamundos very appropriately means 'the World Traveller'.

Then visit the Kromme Elleboog, the side street on the other side of the Witte de Withstraat. Here you can find several murals, such as Love Spreads by Ramon Martins. Because of the bright colours you would think that this striking work of art has not escaped the attention of many people, but since the work is hidden behind a corner, there are even enough Rotterdammers who have never seen the work.

Be sure to read about interesting art galleries in the centre of Rotterdam!

‘But especially in the side streets of Witte de Withstraat you will come across the most beautiful gems. Murals enrich the sides of hip restaurants, cafes and hotels.’
#RotterdamCentrum

Museumpark

Near Witte de Withstraat, about a five-minute walk, although it just depends on how fast you walk, lies the Museum Park. This park connects all the buildings around it and there are five within walking distance: the Kunsthal, Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, the New Institute, The Chabot Museum and the Natural History Museum.

The Boijmans van Beuningen Depot has been located here since 2020, an impressive new icon in Rotterdam. Furthermore, in the beautiful park itself, an open-air museum with a size of 100 by 400 meters, you can find enough beautiful works of art and sculptures that you can admire completely free of charge.

Westersingel

If you've ever walked on the Westersingel, you've probably noticed all the beautiful sculptures. Here are 17 permanent works of art that are part of the International Sculpture Collection in Rotterdam.

If you walk from the Museum Park towards the Witte de Withstraat, you will come across the concrete sculpture Sylvette on the corner of Boijmans van Beuningen. Made by none other than Pablo Picasso and Carl Nesjar in 1970. A real eye-catcher!

From Sylvette you can turn right or left for more beautiful statues. At Eendrachtsplein you have a work of art that every Rotterdammer knows all too well: Santa Claus by the American artist Paul McCarthy. There is an interesting story behind Santa Claus. Originally it represents Santa Claus holding a Christmas tree in his hand. According to the maker, the artwork represents the consumer society in which we live. However, most see something completely different. The nickname Kabouter Buttplug says it all!

And have you ever seen a floating tree? The statue Elevazione on the Westersingel was placed by the Italian artist Giuseppe Penone. It consists of a floating bronze tree trunk held up by living trees, which have become one with the work of art through the bronze roots of the work.

This is just a handful of the artworks that you can admire for free in the Sculpture Route on the Westersingel!

Schouwburgplein

In the middle of the city centre, at Schouwburgplein, is a gigantic waterfall. Very special, such a piece of rugged nature in the middle of the city. As you probably already guessed, this is not a real waterfall, but a life-size photo of the Icelandic waterfall Svartifoss 20 meters high.

The residents of the Hartsuykerflat found the bare concrete wall of the Calypso, which they were forced to look at from their home. Boring and not very Rotterdam-like. That is why they took the initiative themselves and had Mothership put a work of art on this wall. And the result is beautiful!

On the Schouwburgplein there are of course more interesting works of art, such as the kinetic sculptures called Three Columns by George Rickey. Or the red movable light poles that refer to harbor cranes. Enough to admire!

City visitors are relaxing on the benches of Schouwburgplein.
Written by Lisanne van Beurden
Frontrunner
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