The Collection - Stedelijk BASE
From 16 Dec 2017

700 highlights in art and design from 1880 to now

STEDELIJK BASE is the permanent installation of iconic works from the collection of the Stedelijk Museum. It occupies the entire new wing of the museum and features a selection of around 700 pieces grouped around historic movements, social themes, and influential artists. The display begins with STEDELIJK BASE part 1 in the ABN AMRO Gallery including works by seminal figures such as Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, Gerrit Rietveld, Nola Hatterman, Charley Toorop, Barnett Newman, Yves Klein, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed van der Elsken, Yayoi Kusama, and Sheila Hicks. Next, visitors can take the escalator to the VandenEnde Foundation Gallery, where part 2 of STEDELIJK BASE continues with an extraordinary installation by Barbara Kruger and art from the 1980s to the present day, featuring work by Jeff Koons, Anselm Kiefer, Maarten Baas, Nan Goldin, and Marlene Dumas. 

Ranging from the origins of abstraction and industrial design in the late 19th century to contemporary 3D-printed vases and socially engaged painting, STEDELIJK BASE is a perfect introduction to the history of modern art and design. 

Art and design

STEDELIJK BASE is the first-ever major, integrated presentation of art and design in the history of the museum. All media are considered equally important, and are also in dialogue with each other. The result is a diverse combination of paintings, furniture, jewelry, sculptures, everyday objects, accessories, photography, drawings, installations, video art, posters, and interiors. The dialogue between them illuminates common threads that inspired the emergence of these various art forms (such as De Stijl and Bauhaus) while also eliciting new connections. 

Exhibition design 

The exhibition design of STEDELIJK BASE part 1 has been developed by AMO/Rem Koolhaas together with Federico Martelli. It proposes an innovative way to present the permanent collection. The experimental curatorial vision of former Stedelijk director Beatrix Ruf, bold architecture, and the latest technological developments combine to allow visitors to experience the collection through an open-ended route. The chronology can be followed on the perimeter, while freestanding walls in the middle create separate sectors highlighting groups of artworks that represent a specific theme or aspect of the collection. 

AMO delved into the museum’s archives to explore the various ways the Stedelijk has exhibited its collection over the years. The exhibition design of STEDELIJK BASE part 1 builds on the experimental DNA of the Stedelijk. The layout understands the collection as a network of relations rather than a presentation of individual artworks. To capture these interconnections, very thin walls define an almost urban environment of free association and multiple relations.

Revised layout

STEDELIJK BASE is the finale of the museum’s revised spatial design; the building now has a clearer layout, and 70 percent of the museum’s space is devoted to the collection. On the ground floor of the historic building, STEDELIJK TURNS presents a changing program of collection displays, each showcasing new perspectives, research, and topical themes. STEDELIJK NOW, which occupies the first floor, is home to a roster of temporary exhibitions. Another renewed architectural element is the entrance area, which, in collaboration with Benthem Crouwel Architects, has been transformed into a welcoming meeting place for visitors. 

Dynamic collection

While STEDELIJK BASE is devoted to the highlights (artworks in the art historical canon), STEDELIJK TURNS sheds light on hidden or suppressed stories, and unseen or rarely exhibited artworks. Fueled by new research and topical themes, these alternative perspectives will inspire changes in STEDELIJK BASE. Consequently, STEDELIJK BASE will be a dynamic, changing presentation that, over the next five years, will invite visitors to experience the transformation of the canon.

How to navigate STEDELIJK BASE

Visitors to STEDELIJK BASE can begin in the lower level gallery, which presents a survey of developments in art and design from the late 19th century up to 1980. Next, visitors can take the escalator to the upper floor. There the exhibition continues with an immersive installation by Barbara Kruger, which leads to exhibition spaces featuring art from the 1980s to the present day. This first-floor presentation will be redeveloped each year. 

Place for experimentation

The Stedelijk Museum has always been a place for experimentation: from Vincent van Gogh’s debut solo exhibition in the Netherlands in 1905 to 365 days of live art during Tino Sehgal’s A Year at the Stedelijk in 2015, from the space-age fashion show featuring experimental jewelry by Emmy van Leersum and Gijs Bakker in 1967 to table tennis on Museum Square with Rirkrit Tiravanija in 2016, and much, much more. In all of its exhibitions and acquisitions, the Stedelijk has always embraced experimentation, playfulness, and challenging art and exhibition practices. 

The museum’s history is presented with a time line in the entrance area to STEDELIJK BASE. Key exhibitions such as Cobra (1949), Bewogen beweging (1961), Dylaby (1962), Perspectief op textiel (1969), Op losse schroeven: situaties en cryptostructuren (1969), and Horn of Plenty (1989), which left their distinctive mark on the collection, are also highlighted in STEDELIJKBASE. 

New collection guide: Let Me Be Your Guide

The launch of STEDELIJK BASE is accompanied by the publication of a new book about the collection, Let Me Be Your Guide (NL/EN). The guide shares insights into the wonderful, astonishing and, in some cases, relatively unknown artworks, and also tells of the museum’s tumultuous history. This practical publication provides a chronological survey of one hundred works from the Stedelijk collection, together with ten essays for visitors who are interested in digging deeper into the changes that have taken place in art over the last one hundred and fifty years.

More info

Theme issue of Stedelijk Studies

Issue #5 of Stedelijk Studies, a peer-reviewed online journal, appeared in fall 2017 and is dedicated to the theme “Curating the Collection.” This special issue, edited by Dr. Rachel Esner and Dr. Fieke Konijn, offers an overview of topical debates concerning collection presentations and includes a roundtable discussion that sheds light on the ideas behind STEDELIJK BASE and TURNS. 

More info

Stedelijk Sunday Seminar

During the STEDELIJK BASE opening weekend, the museum will organize a Sunday Seminar in which experts will discuss the exhibition’s context and offer critical analyses. What role does this collection presentation play in the new layout of the Stedelijk? What is the meaning of the experimental exhibition design? How does the exhibition relate to the broader debate on how to exhibit collections? How does the mix of art and design work? These and other issues will be discussed by curators, scholars, critics, and designers.

THEORIE, 17 dec 2017
Opening Base Sunday Seminar: Curating the Collection
Tijd: 15.00 – 17.00
Locatie: Teijin Auditorium 
Language: English
More info

Audio tour

A brand-new audio tour has been developed for STEDELIJK BASE. It features a number of in-depth commentaries by various curators, several of the Stedelijk Blikopeners, and Rem Koolhaas. Available in six languages, the audio tour is offered free of charge. Tip: It’s a good idea to keep the audio tour with you for the duration of your visit, because it includes stops on every floor.

Open Eye Sessions (Oog & Blikken) with the Blikopeners

Would you like to see art from a fresh perspective? Try an Open Eye session with the Blikopeners. Blikopeners (literally, “eye openers”), the Stedelijk Museum’s successful peer education program, kicked off ten years ago. Our Blikopeners are high school and college students and young professionals from all over Amsterdam who work for the museum.

On weekends visitors can find the Stedelijk’s Blikopeners crew in the BASE. They will gladly surprise you with stories about their favorite works of art, challenge you to look at art with other visitors, and share snippets of art history, fun activities, and inside information.

More info (coming soon)

Guided Tours 

Join a guided tour of STEDELIJK BASE, the Stedelijk Museum’s new, permanent installation of works from the collection. This is the ideal introduction for anyone who would like to become more closely acquainted with modern art and design, and also a great opportunity for art lovers to discover well-known Stedelijk icons in a new context. The guide will help you to look more closely and spot connections between the artworks, made easier because they are displayed in a space articulated by freestanding walls. The traditional museum experience has been transformed from a succession of galleries into an almost urban environment in which a new discovery is waiting around every corner.


The Stedelijk offers an extensive education program whereby students receive an introduction to the iconic works in the museum’s collection. The art of asking questions is relevant to the creative, inquiring, and critical attitude required of high school and college students in the modern academic environment. 

Our programs stimulate creative viewing, inquiry-based learning, and critical thinking. These class museum visits are all about experiencing art and artistic research in an authentic and active way. We also offer in-depth courses to senior students through our special examination training programs.

More info