9 completely free art experiences in the Netherlands 

Want to enjoy the Dutch art scene but you’re on a budget? Luckily, there are plenty of art museums, exhibitions and experiences in the Netherlands you can enjoy completely for free! 🎨

You just need to know where to look. There’s far more than just the Rijksmuseum or the Mauritshuis to keep your artistic urges satisfied.

In fact, the Netherlands has over 300 art galleries spread out across the country — and some of them won’t cost you a cent.

Whether they take the form of a free museum, a city walking tour or special events, there are loads of opportunities sitting right under our noses to enjoy Dutch paintings, sculptures and photography without breaking the bank. 💸

1. Melkweg Expo

Located at the iconic nightclub and music venue in the centre of Amsterdam, the Melkweg Expo aims to simultaneously nurture young, up-and-coming talent and provide an inclusive viewing experience for visitors.

The several yearly exhibitions hosted at the studio are characterised by a distinct playfulness and youthful energy, often featuring themes related to identity and pop culture. 

Closing later than most galleries, a visit to the Melkweg Expo could be the perfect end to a day out in the Dutch capital — and I promise that it won’t require the queuing or claustrophobia that you’re used to at this particular venue. 

Where: Lijnbaansgracht 234a, 1017 PH, Amsterdam.
Opening Times: Tuesday – Sunday; 12 PM to 7 PM.

2. Pulchri Studio

Pulchri Studio in the Hague was founded in 1847. However, in their own words, they’re “still young at heart.”

The gallery hosts 60 unique exhibitions a year, ranging from modern spatial art to neo-classical clay figurines. Most of the pieces are also for sale, so if you’ve saved up enough money by opting for budget-friendly museum experiences, you might be able to take a little something home with you. 😉

The gallery itself is housed in a stunning building right opposite the Binnenhof, with a café in its off-street courtyard, making it the perfect lunchtime stop on a day trip to South Holland’s capital city. 

Where: Lange Voorhout 15, 2514 EA, Den Haag.
Opening Times: Tuesday – Sunday; 12 PM to 5 PM.

3. W139 

W139 is an artist-run presentation and production space in Amsterdam that first opened in 1979. The studio has a political goal — countering some of the issues that it sees in the current Dutch art scene.

At the heart of their mission is to support young and up-and-coming Dutch artists, and give them a platform despite increasing institutional competition and limited resources. Common themes include a need for solidarity and the repercussions of unchecked capitalism on the creative sphere.

The gallery maintains an open call for artists, meaning that any artist, whether they are a big name or a newcomer, has the opportunity to share their art at W139.

Where: Warmoesstraat 139, 1012JB, Amsterdam.
Opening Times: Monday – Sunday; 12 PM to 6 PM.

4. Fotogalerie De Gang

Fotogalerie de Gang might be Haarlem’s best-kept secret. Or would you expect to discover a small photo gallery in a corridor leading to a secret Mennonite church? Exactly.

The small gallery exhibits temporary photo exhibitions and a small permanent exhibition of Frans Hals paintings in one of the Netherlands’ famous 17th-century hidden churches.

With each step further into Fotogalerie De Gang you are stepping back in time — making this a must-see for both art and history buffs. 

Where: Grote Houtstraat 43, 2011 SC, Haarlem.
Opening Times: Monday&Sunday, 12 PM to 17 PM; Tuesday – Saturday, 10 AM to 17 PM.

5. OSCAM

OSCAM (Open Space Contemporary Art Museum) is a free gallery in Bijlmer, just minutes from the Johan Cruyff Arena. They present high-quality exhibitions of art, fashion and design aimed at bringing the often exclusive art scene closer to the public.

OSCAM is passionate about inclusivity and access, with an incredibly diverse team and a track record of promoting black, female and LGBTQ+ artists. 

This is the place for you if you enjoy boundary-pushing artists and contemporary art that aims to start a conversation instead of just being part of one.

Where: Bijlmerplein 110-111, 1102 DB, Amsterdam.
Opening Times: Tuesday – Friday, 10 AM to 6 PM; Saturday, 10 AM to 5 PM.

6. De Kunstavond

If you want to experience something completely out of the ordinary, you’re going to love De Kunstavond in the Witte de Withkwartier (the art quarter) of Rotterdam

Every first Friday of the month, the entire street puts on an evening of art to enjoy totally free of charge. Across multiple locations, you can experience a number of art exhibitions, presentations and tours.

Frequently, the recurring themes deal with identity, the future and technology. Definitely a night you don’t want to miss!

Where: Witte de Withstraat 50, 3012BR, Rotterdam.
Opening Times: First Friday of the month; 6 PM to 9 PM.

7. Street art in Utrecht

Galleries are all well and good, but you might like a more outdoorsy experience for the rare occasions when the Dutch sun shows its face.

Ontdek Utrecht provides a free map to a self-guided nine-kilometre route through the city. Some of the nin murals on the router are among the oldest pieces of street art in the Netherlands! 

This is not only an exciting art experience but a great way to fully immerse yourself in the beautiful city of Utrecht. The tour takes you not only through the historic centre but also through some of the less touristic places of the city. 

Starting Point: Spaaklaan 2, 3527 SK, Utrecht. The Lute Player Mural.

8. Van Gogh-Roosengaarde Fietspad

If you were asked five things that make the Netherlands iconic, Vincent Van Gogh and bikes might both make the cut. Well, some creative planners in Brabant have expertly combined the two, creating the Vincent Van Gogh cycle route!

This unique bike path takes cyclists around Van Gogh’s home province, past significant sites in his life and street art inspired by one of the Dutch’s favourite painters.

In total, the route stretches over 435 km and takes visitors through the whole of Brabant. This may seem a little intimidating, so cyclists can also choose between shorter tours, focussing on specific areas where the painter lived, worked or found inspiration.

If there’s one route that you won’t want to miss, it’s the Van Gogh-Roosengaarde Fietspad in Eindhoven, which lights up at night in the colours and patterns of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night.’

Created by artist Daan Roosengaard, the path is strewn with thousands of solar-powered pebbles, which collect energy from the sun by day and sparkle at night. Absolutely magical!

9. Walk around Amsterdam’s art district 

Yes, art shops are expensive. If you’re reading this article about free art experiences, I’m going to take a shot in the dark and guess that you’re not in the market to buy yourself a Vermeer any time soon.

However, despite the air of exclusivity coating the various art shops dotted around Amsterdam’s inofficial art district, close to the Vijzelsgracht. You might be surprised by the warm and inclusive atmosphere that you can discover inside. 

Exploring the art shops of Amsterdam can be a wonderful day out, especially when the sun is shining. It’s a great way to become acquainted with local, up-and-coming artists that you might not see in the official galleries — and you definitely feel very high-class while going about it.

Where: Vijzelgracht, 1017 HT, Amsterdam.

Is there a free art experience in the Netherlands that we’ve missed? Tell us in the comments!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in March 2022, and was fully updated in July 2022 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image:Depositphotos
Abigail Osbourne
Abigail Osbourne
Abigail is a freelance writer and MA student from England. She’s been in the Netherlands for three years now, during which time she’s lived in three different cities and five different apartments. Though she’s never clicked with cycling, she’s always on the hunt for new things to learn and explore in this country. She is particularly devoted to discovering smaller and less known cities, in search of the Netherlands’ best-kept secrets.

Liked it? Try these on for size:

What do you think?

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related posts

Latest posts

This Dutchman was jailed for raping a child, now he gets to represent the NL at the Olympics

Dutch beach volleyball pro, Steven Van de Velde, is currently facing the heat as prior convictions for sex with a minor resurface following his...

Unlimited data SIM cards in the Netherlands: the ultimate guide

Hoera, you’ve landed in the Netherlands, tried your first stroopwafel, and now you’re looking for the perfect unlimited data plan to power your mobile...

Taylor Swift just spoke Dutch and people can’t help but make this comparison

Many things were expected at Taylor Swift's concert in Johan Cruijff Arena last night: think sparkling outfits, cowboy boots, and friendship bracelets. One thing...

It's happening

Upcoming events

The latest Dutch news.
In your inbox.