Rotterdam has traditionally been known as the ‘working city’. But in recent decades, the city has acquired so many cultural focal points that that title no longer holds.
Not everyone is equally enthusiastic about the latest acquisition of Rotterdam culture: the British newspaper The Guardian called the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum’s recently completed depot – close to the HR site in the Museumpark – ‘slapstick architecture’ and ‘a 3.99 euro bowl from Ikea that became part of the Rotterdam skyline’. The New York Times, however, saw “the future in the way art is made available to the general public.” The audience also seems to agree: in less than six months, the depot has already attracted more than 100,000 visitors.
And there is much more to visit and do in Rotterdam, says WdKA student Lieke. ‘In the summer, LantarenVenster organizes Pleinbioscoop, which goes to the cinema under the open sky.’ The square cinema is threatened with its very existence, now that there is trouble with the permit, but at least this year the square cinema will continue – albeit in a different place.
First date at the pinball museum
Museum lovers can also treat themselves in Rotterdam, says Lieke. In addition to the museums that your parents have probably already talked about enthusiastically – the Kunsthallen next to the Boijmans depot – she is also a big fan of the Museum of Photography. ‘And Remastered Rotterdam is also highly recommended.’
The smaller, lesser known places are the Pinball Museum in Delfshaven (good for a first date…) and the Stedelijk Museum in nearby Schiedam. To see art, you can also just go out into the street.
Cultural trips don’t have to cost you much as a student: ‘Get a Rotterdam passport anyway’, says Lieke. ‘With two visits to a cultural institution, you usually already have it figured out.’
Evening theatre, music or film
In addition to the big – and more famous – theaters such as Rotterdamse Schouwburg, Theater Zuidplein and the new and old Luxor Theater, there are lesser-known theaters such as Studio de Bakkerij in Noord and Theater Walhalla (in a very beautiful location) on Katendrecht). Lieke mentions the Maasteateret in Lloydkwartier. Cultural events in the broadest sense of the word are programmed in De Doelen. So let yourself be surprised, for example during a free lunchtime concert.
You will also find many ‘cultural’ cinemas in Rotterdam, where the program differs from what you find in ‘average’ cinemas. Think of the legendary Cinerama on Westblaak – you only have to go there once for the building – and LantarenVenster on Kop van Zuid. ‘And Kino in Gouvernestraat, ed.) is a very nice place’, Lieke advises.
You can see bands in Rotown (very indie), Baroeg (hard guitars), V11 (punk/indie) or Grounds (hip-hop/reggae/funk/latin/world). For jazz and world music, go to Bird, the aforementioned LantarenVenster or jazz café Dizzy.
Express your creativity yourself
And do you want to do something creative yourself? Consider the courses (with student discount) from SKVR (Stichting Kunstelijke Vorming Rotterdam), which are held in various locations in Rotterdam.
For a combination of all the above: visit Merwe-Vierhavens, now shortened to M4h, on the border area between Rotterdam and Schiedam at Marconiplein. Yes, it’s a bit of a bike/walk/metro ride, but you’ll find a colorful cross-pollination of nightclubs that have a 24-hour license, studios, creative businesses, theaters, bars, restaurants and cafes, in the setting of a former port area. Enjoy it while you still can: The municipality has advanced plans to transform the area into a residential area.
Text: Rutger de Quay
Photo: Edith van Gameren
Illustration: Demian Janssen