Spring is in full swing, but instead of being able to sit in parks and soak up the sun, we’re facing a new, unprecedented crisis. The new coronavirus has caused aircrafts to stay on the ground, borders to be closed and entire countries to go under curfew. Many spring trips have been cancelled and no one knows what the summer holidays will bring. All over the world restaurants, tour operators, hotels and shops are facing incredible challenges, and the cultural industries have been hard hit.

What’s become clear while we’ve been stuck at home is how important art and culture is for bringing meaning to our lives. From Italians singing to each other from their balconies to grandparents reading bedtime stories over Skype to opera houses allowing us to stream magnificent works online: sharing art is a vital form of comfort and distraction in trying times. Seeing as you can’t travel to us right now, we thought we’d curate a list of some of the most interesting Dutch cultural happenings being offered for free online right now.

Dance and sing with the Dutch National Opera and Ballet Company

To get us through these troublesome times, the Dutch National Opera and Ballet Company has launched the online program “Keep Singing and Dancing.”
Stream magnificent productions like Don Quixote right into your living room. Or even better, keep active by joining master ballerinas in their warm ups and simple ballet routines designed for you to do at home. Children will love to join in too.

Get up close and personal with Vincent Van Gogh

Usually, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has hundreds of tourists lining up outside at any time of day. Today, the museum is eerily quiet. But while you can’t visit in person, you can still enjoy a trip to the museum online. Do a virtual tour of the galleries using Google Streetview, or examine your favorite artworks such as The Potato Eaters or Sunflowers up close on the museum website. You can also satisfy some of your curiosity about the artist himself by reading some of his archive of personal letters, or listen to a curator answer the questions you’ve always wondered about, like “Why on earth did Van Gogh cut off his ear?” While of course there’s nothing a visit in person, the online collection is full of marvels to entertain and enlighten – and you don’t have to brave a crowded gallery to see them!

Experience the story of Anne Frank on Youtube

Usually, the very first destination on a visitor’s itinerary is the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Many of us have grown up reading her diary, and a visit to the “acherhuis” where she hid is an important pilgrimage. Now that the Anne Frank House has had to temporarily shut their doors, they’ve come up with a new way to share the story of her life: through a “vlog”, or video blog. This thoughtful 15-part video “diary” imagines how Anne Frank would have told her story if she were armed with a video camera, as so many young people are today. It’s performed by a Dutch cast and filmed in an historically accurate reproduction of the house where she hid, as well as on location at the residence where the Frank family lived before going into hiding. You can find it on Youtube here.

Discover a treasure trove of documentaries from around the world.

Every year in November, documentary makers from all over the world gather in Amsterdam’s stylish art noveau Tuchinski movie theater to pitch movie ideas and compete for best documentary of the year. Now the International Documentary Festival in Amsterdam has put a a selection of some of their most popular films online for free. Allow yourself to be transported to places you’ve never imagined.

Nederland, Amsterdam, 15 November 2018. Flags during the sunset. Photo: Grasshopperstudios / Joke Schut

Take a tour of the Rijksmuseum

Experience The Night Watch and other great works from up close

The Rijksmuseum with Rembrandt’s The Night Watch and countless other masterpieces from the Golden Age is the most famous museum in Amsterdam. In 80 exhibition rooms, 8,000 works of art tell of 800 years of Dutch history – from the Middle Ages to Mondrian. In addition to some highlights from the collection that you can admire at close quarters, the Rijksmuseum has also launched a brand new online platform that makes the museum’s famous gallery digitally accessible. With the latest high-resolution 360º images you can “walk past” masterpieces and explore the highlights by means of video stories.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed these virtual explorations through the art, culture and history of the Netherlands. Take care of yourselves and make sure to stay connected even while in isolation at home!