Here you will find more information about our 2020 exhibition programme.


Black in Rembrandt’s Time

6 March to 31 May 2020

Black people were present in the Netherlands in the seventeenth century. Here, in society, in Rembrandt’s neighbourhood and in art. It is an aspect that has long been overlooked. This exhibition brings you eye to eye with portraits of black people. How did artists depict them? And can we find out who they are? HERE: Black in Rembrandt’s Time is about overlooked works of art and representation, about recognition and acknowledgment.

“For years I’ve been looking for portraits of black people like me. Surely there had to be more than the stereotypical images of servants, enslaved people or caricatures? I found the alternative in Rembrandt’s time: a gallery of portraits of black people who are depicted with respect and dignity.” – Stephanie Archangel, Guest Curator

What strikes us in Rembrandt’s art and that of many of his contemporaries? The stereotypes that would later fix the image of black people did not yet predominate. Black people were not just secondary figures in subordinate roles, but often the subjects of the works of art.

The exhibition also tells the stories behind the works. Between around 1630 and 1660 there was a small community of free black people around Jodenbreestraat, in Rembrandt’s neighbourhood. Recent research has revealed a lot more about these Afro-Amsterdammers. In that same period black people are most often represented in works of art without negative stereotyping, simply as they were.

“As a museum we hope that this exhibition will make an impact. HERE. Black in Rembrandt’s Time makes a powerful statement about black presence and representation in the Netherlands, about better looking and blind spots, about having a voice and a changing image.” – Lidewij de Koekkoek, Director of The Rembrandt House Museum

HERE: Black in Rembrandt’s Time runs from 6 March to 31 May 2020 in The Rembrandt House Museum. The exhibition was the brainchild of guest curators Elmer Kolfin and Stephanie Archangel, the design was by Raul Balai and Brian Elstak. Multi-disciplinary evening programmes in a number of venues accompany this exhibition. WBOOKS is publishing a book and there’s also a zine about contemporary black artists.

This exhibition is made possible in part by Fonds 21, the Mondriaan Fund – the public fund for visual art and cultural heritage, the Nachenius Tjeenk Foundation, the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund, the Ten Hagen Fund and VSBfonds. The exhibition has been supported by the Dutch government: an indemnity grant has been provided by the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands on behalf of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science.

Note for the press: download the press release here.


Hansken. Rembrandt’s Elephant

19 June to 27 September 2020

Hansken was the most famous elephant in the seventeenth century. The only elephant in Europe at that time, she travelled to markets, fairs and courts. When Hansken visited Amsterdam for the last time in 1647 she was able to perform thirty-six tricks. She could fight with a sword, shoot a pistol, carry a pail of water, put on and take off a hat, pick up coins and much, much more. Rembrandt saw her and drew her a number of times—a perfect excuse for The Rembrandt House Museum to bring Hansken’s story to life again in this family exhibition.

Hansken’s story is amazing, but at the same time moving. She had to put up with a great deal during her life; she was forced to make long journeys and perform very frequently. This was compounded by the fact that nobody really knew how to look after an elephant properly. Present-day views surrounding this issue are also highlighted in this exhibition.

The exhibition is based on a concept by Michiel Roscam Abbing (the author of Rembrandt’s Elephant) and Anneke Groen. Hansken: Rembrandt’s Elephant features drawings and etchings by Rembrandt and his contemporaries, paintings and a digital map on which you can follow Hansken’s route through Europe.


KinderKunstBiënnale X Rembrandt

5 to 25 October 2020

The Rembrandt House Museum will be presenting a series of Rembrandtesque portraits by children during the first Amsterdam KinderKunstBiënnale. The portraits were created as part of the Hats on for Rembrandt art project by De Rode Loper op School. The children made a hat, and in the spirit of Rembrandt, had their portraits taken by the photographer Marije van der Hoeven. The results are cheerful, touching and surprising. The children are proud of themselves and think about who they might have been previously. Workshops will be taking place during the autumn school holidays. Children are also welcome to make an unusual portrait themselves.



The Aversion to Idealization

6 November 2020 to 8 March 2021

Depict things as they are, don’t glamorize them–this is the essence of Rembrandt’s work, and that of many contemporary artists, too. They look at their surroundings, people and the human body with the same unfiltered vision. The group exhibition RAW: The Aversion to Idealization showcases work by a number of contemporary artists—well-known names as well as young talent. Although their art is different, they have something important in common: like Rembrandt they are tackling the same themes, problems and experiments—but almost 400 years later. RAW: The Aversion to Idealization is the first in a new series of exhibitions of contemporary art in The Rembrandt House Museum.


Note for the press: for more information visit our press page and download a selection of the press images here.