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Arts and Culture for Expats in the Netherlands

Submitted: July 2014

The Netherlands has a long and rich history; during the 1600s the country was generally seen as the richest and most advanced country in Europe. There is plenty of evidence dating from this Golden Age all around the country. Architecturally important houses, buildings and churches are not hard to find. As one of the most important trading nations of the time, the Netherlands amassed collections of objets d’art from all around the world, some of which have found their way into Dutch museums.

The Netherlands has a history of producing world-class painters: Bosch, Bruegel, Rembrandt, Hals, Van de Velde, Vermeer and Van Gogh are all well known, but Dutch museums and art galleries are filled with paintings by others such as van Ruysdael, Steen, van Spaendonck, Dommersen and Pitloo. Perhaps the best known museum/gallery in the Netherlands is the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which is not only graced by the largest collection of the troubled master's work in the world but also features works by his contemporaries such as Monet, Manet, Gauguin, Pissarro, Seurat, Lautrec and many others. Other museums and galleries include:

The Dutch East India Company brought porcelain from China, which proved so popular in Europe that the Dutch developed their own version. This Delftware - not actually porcelain, but tin-glazed pottery - is named after the town of Delft, and it is still possible to visit Royal Delft, the only original Delft factory still operating. If you are in this town you should also find time to visit the Vermeer Centre where you can view his studio and see full-size reproductions of all of the 37 paintings that changed the way artists thought about using light for ever.

Theatre, ballet and opera are popular in the Netherlands. Amsterdam has several world class venues including:

The Netherlands is world-renowned as a producer of flowers and bulbs. The world's largest flower auction is at Aalsmeer near Amsterdam, where around 20 million flowers are sold every day. It is set in one of the largest commercial buildings in world. The visit requires an early start as visiting time starts at 7.30am. There is a video showing the organised mayhem that ensues at the auction here, and a video describing the whole process here. The Dutch auction process is unusual in that instead of starting at a low price and working up, it starts at a high price on the auction clock and falls until someone bids, the first bidder therefore wins the auction. This speeds up the auction process, which is sensible when you are trying to sell 20 million perishable items in one day. You can also visit the tulip fields in bloom during the annual tulip festivals which take place in various places around the country.



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