STRAAT: The Museum for Graffiti and Street Art has Opened in Amsterdam
A few years back, the street art movement began moving inside as museums such as Urban Nation in Berlin, SAM in St Petersburg, Mausa Vauban in Neuf-Brisach, and Museum of Graffiti in Miami salivated over the appetites of hungry visitors. Similar plans have been simmering in one of the most visited European cities, Amsterdam, and we were happy to witness the long awaited opening on October 9th.
Renowned for boasting more museums per square meter than any other city in the world, and as a gittering cultural capital, Amsterdam entertained a plenitude of promoters offering ideas, one of them including the transformation of a former shipyard, a national monument, into a functional exhibition venue that would host hundreds of large-scale works painted exclusively for the museum's own collection. As a part of the wharf complex, known as NDSM in the Noord (north) part of the city, the 7000 square meter venue converted the industrial complex into a creative haven, regularly hosting live music performances and other cultural events.
The organizers started building their collection by inviting artists to paint large-scale works at the location and simultaneously starting the metamorphosis of the building, which turned out to be a massive undertaking. After a series of the kinds of unforeseeable hurdles that tend to delay gratification, determination prevailed as the STRAAT museum for graffiti and street art officially opened its doors almost two weeks ago, although the government announced a "partial lockdow" to contain the second wave of the Covid-19 infections only a few days ahead of the big opening. Planned on the back of the hopeful virus situation in the summer the big event had to be canceled, but the museum was still able to welcome its first visitors.
After visiting the space mid-transformation a few years ago, and being one of the first to step foot inside, we thoroughly appreciated seeing it in such magnificent, new light. With 153 artworks by 134 artists from 27 countries on view, laid out in a format of a city, STRAAT enables visitors to embark on an indoor "street art tour" and enjoy the exclusive works. Thematically grouped and accompanied by texts and timelines that illustrate the complexity of the movement, the selection covers a wide range of styles that can be found on walls around the globe. Featuring mostly paintings on large canvases, sculptures, and installations, the venue is enhanced with an observation deck that provides a breathtaking view of the whole presentation. Along with the main space, there is a cafe, a shop, and the museum's own gallery that currently hosts a solo show What The Fuck? by the Dutch calligraffiti legend, Niels Shoe Meulman curated by the gallery's curator, Hyland Mather.
Text and photos by Sasha Bogojev