From bubbles to Bauhaus: 12 great things to do in May

Details from a man's waistcoat 1780-1800. Photo: Amsterdam Museum
Details from a man’s waistcoat 1780-1800. Photo: Amsterdam Museum

The first of the blockbuster Rembrandt shows closes this month, so head for the Rembrandt House in Amsterdam to catch up on his social network while you can. Elsewhere, there are several English language theatre shows to enjoy, as well as some classic design in Rotterdam.

Come as you are
Tiny waists and (hence) corsets are on show at the Amsterdam Museum where the 18th and 19th century costume collection is given an airing. What are these clothes telling us about the conventions of the time and their effects on the wearers? And are our modern-day equivalents equally restrictive and prescriptive in their own way? A number of designers have taken the costumes as an inspiration and created their own. Fashion Statements is on until September 9. Website

Go tiling with the tots
A bit of classy entertainment for the tots this May holiday can be had at the Meermanno Museum in The Hague. With (or without) the use of templates you and your child can create a tasteful Art Nouveau tile during a family workshop organised by the museum. It will make a good present for mother’s day (on the 12th in this country), the museum adds. May 2. Website 

Celebrate Liberation Day
There are Liberation Day festivals all over the country on May 5, with over 400 artists performing in 14 cities. That is too many to list here so here is a handy guide to all the festivities and activities on the day.


Look at a World War II zoo
During World War II, Amsterdam’s Artis zoo harboured many people who were hiding from the German occupiers. At the same time going to the zoo was a popular outing for German soldiers. Artis is organising an hour long guided tour around both the people and the animals that inhabited the zoo at the time. Until May 5. Website

Be a bubble head
The English Theatre has a treat in store for audiences young and old at the Koninklijke Schouwburg in The Hague. Louis Pearl, The Amazing Bubble Man, is forever blowing bubbles and not just any bubbles but ‘square bubbles, bubbles inside bubbles, fog-filled bubbles, giant bubbles, bubble volcanoes, tornadoes and trampolines and people inside bubbles’.


Pearl likes to engage the audience so don’t be surprised if he turns you into a bubble head. He is accompanied on flute, voice, and accordion by musician Jetty Swart. May 10 and 11 (there are two shows on this day) Website

Relive 2016
Theatre company Downstage Left presents ‘A 2016 Love Story’, a play by Irish playwright Denis Burke set in the year 2016 when multiple icons from the sixties kicked the bucket and Britain was convulsed and divided by the Brexit referendum. In the midst of these pivotal events a chance meeting between implacable enemies hints that love may conquer all after all. Clifford Studios, Amsterdam, May, 17, 18 and 19. Website

Network with Rembrandt
Rembrandt’s Social Network  – wives, mentors, disgruntled and happy clients etc-  kicked off the Rembrandt year and is now the first to close. Catch it at the Rembrandthuis in Amsterdam. Until May 19. Website

Rembrandt, Portrait of the Apothecary Abraham Francen, 1655-1659. Amsterdam Museum

Make a noise
The Orange Theatre Company in Amsterdam is presenting Michael Frayn’s acclaimed comedy NoisesOff. Prepare for a jolly evening of envious luvvies who fluff their lines and create general backstage mayhem as they put together a performance. May 24, 25, 30 and June 1. Website

Feast your eyes
Maria van Kesteren’s smooth wooden objects simply beg to be pawed and handled but unfortunately looking at them will have to do at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. Van Kesteren, who is in her 80s and no longer practices, says she loves the smell and feel of wood but not its grain – which diverts attention away from the shapes. This is the reason she has painted the deceptively simple objects now on show in the exhibition Form Variations. Until August 18 Website

Bag a Bauhaus tea towel
The Boymans van Beuningen museum in Rotterdam is celebrating 100 years of Bauhaus with an exhibition comprising a whopping 800 German and Dutch designs (until May 26). The centenary of the German design and architecture power house has spawned a number of exhibitions, among which the textiles of Gunta Stölzl in the Groninger Museum (until September 1) and more textiles in the Textielmuseum in Tilburg  (from May 25) If you hurry you can bag a Bauhaus tea towel in Tilburg.

Photo: Boymans van Beuningen museum

Ponder populism
What is driving populism and how can it be addressed? Barry Eichengreen – a Professor of Economics at UC Berkeley and author of The Populist Temptation, will attempt to answer that question by putting the phenomenon in its historic and economic context at the John Adams Institute in Amsterdam. May 27. Website

Cop a Japanese cartoon
What do old Japanese masters and modern Japanese manga artists have in common? Quite a lot according to Cool Japan, an exhibition at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam which shows how traditional visual tricks and techniques used by the masters of the woodcut and print have found their way into the wildly popular anime and manga iconography. Until September 1. Website

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