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MUSEUMPARK AND AROUND

Best forCutting-edge cultural hits
Locals loveIndoor-outdoor arts appreciation
Don’t missDebriefing drinks in Bierhandel De Pijp

Do you know your Chabots from your Van Goghs? Your Bruegels from your Van Eycks? Head to Rotterdam’s Museum Quarter for a crash course. Here, clustered around a green urban sprawl, six museums flit from high art to popular culture, old masterpieces to ground-breaking works. Het Nieuwe Instituut celebrates excellence in architecture, with dabblings in fashion and video activism. See fine examples of the German-born, Netherlands-grown Nieuwe Bouwen style at Chabot Museum (dedicated to artist Henk Chabot) and 1930s futurist villa, Sonneveld House. Natuurhistorisch Museum hosts a field guide’s worth of beasts and birds, alongside other natural wonders. Amid all these architectural head-turners, even Paul de Ruiter’s carpark is a sleek monolith.

Peaceful Museumpark has an orchard, a romantic tree-edged area and sites for festivals, open-air theatre, film screenings, and bijou markets. Sculptures spilling out from the park’s galleries form a striking sculpture garden, too. Happenings to muse on include February’s Art Rotterdam and March’s Rotterdam Museum Night for after-dark visits. Come August, classic and modern film screenings are held in the Boijmans Van Beuningen park for the Pleinbioscoop cinema festival. Most museums hold child-friendly events too (Natuurhistorisch Museum’s megafauna skeletons will prove a hit). Save on entry fees with a Museumpark ticket for 40 per cent off at five museums, valid for up to six months.

  • Kunsthal Rotterdam

    341 Museumpark, Westzeedijk, 3015 AA
    Architect Rem Koolhaas designed a breathtaking shell for this gallery. Within this masterpiece of luxurious and lo-fi materials, there’s no permanent collection, but rather a roster of graduates and grand masters. Paintings and photography, fashion retrospectives, historic artefacts, performative pieces... Anything goes. Look out for themed weekends, talks and kids’ events.
  • Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

    18 Museumpark, 3015 CX
    The titular lawyer and businessman were the first to donate their extensive art collections to this, Holland’s oldest art gallery. Since then it’s been built on altruism, with more than 50,000 gifts from 1,700 donors. The generous lot have given Rubens, Van Gogh and more over the centuries. There’s a sculpture garden too and the gallery has its own YouTube TV show.
  • KINO Rotterdam

    129–133 Gouvernestraat, 3014 PM
    This intimate cinema on Gouvernestraat (the epicentre of the city’s creative industry) screens well-curated arthouse and indie films. Catch festivals and talks alongside a wider cultural programme with music and exhibitions. A pan-European restaurant (with veggie choices) keeps cineastes fed and watered: from Monday to Wednesday a voucher for a meal and a film is just €21.
  • Ter Marsch & Co

    70 Witte de Withstraat, 3012 BS
    A three-minute stroll from Museumpark, this award-winning burger joint, set in a turn-of-the-century butcher shop, puts only the best in buns. Scottish Angus beef with farmhouse cheddar, winter truffle and pancetta, say, or Japanese Wagyu with sour cucumber and ponzu gravy. There’s a cabinet strung with dry-aging sirloins and vegan plant patties, too.
  • Collectiv by Swan

    30 Witte de Withstraat, 3012 BP
    For a crafty souvenir, try this lo-fi pop-up boutique. Here, a collective of 30 makers from Rotterdam’s Swan Market peddle their wares. Handmade and custom-designed treats include X-rated socks, quirky homewares, cacti, offbeat accessories or artisan scrunchies. For those with more luggage space, there are retro furnishings and art prints, but leisurely browsing is encouraged too.

Fun Facts

  • Spy Claes Oldenburg’s Screwarch sculpture (inspired by construction plans for a bridge over the Nieuwe Maas river) in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen gardens
  • A catfish swallowed for a drinking game is on display in the Natuurhistorisch Museum
  • Get to know the Kunsthal building better with Mike Boddé’s Listening Route or an Urban Guides tour

You can easily spend a day here, wandering around the museums – or anti-museum, in the Kunsthal’s case! Don’t miss NAI Booksellers’ fantastic arts and architecture books.

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Image credits: © Getty; © Getty; © Ossip van Duivenbode; © Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen; © KINO Rotterdam; © Ter Marsch & Co; © Collectiv by Swan