There is a new and unique contribution to the city’s famous museums which is a fairly hidden secret in the heart of Amsterdam.
The Greenbox Museum of Contemporary Art allows visitors into the world of contemporary Saudi Arabian art. The museum allows visitors to enter a world that is usually closed to outsiders and rather unknown, yet highly interesting. The museum is exclusively dedicated to collecting and housing contemporary works of artists from Saudi Arabia, including a large collection of works by rising stars such as Ahmed Mater and Abdul Nasser Gharem, among various others.
The Greenbox museum is founded by Aarnout Helb, a Dutchman with Indonesian roots. Indonesia being an Islamic country, Helb got interested in art from the heartland country that holds custodianship over the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina.
The museum is comparatively small in square meters, but on Facebook it is the second largest museum with over 900,000” likes” When you visit it in person and hear Helb talk about his collection with passion, you will understand why this quirky place is so much liked.
The Greenbox museum discovers artists through the internet and in publications and try to share their research online in the Greenbox Dictionary of Saudi Arabian artists. The artwork collected usually has a strong conceptual side to it. Which medium an artist uses, does not really interest Helb. There is performance, video, work on paper traditionally made of pomegranate, photo, photogram, x-ray, paint, stamps, silkscreen prints etc.
Greenbox has acquired art via different channels. The visionary efforts of Athr gallery in Jeddah have been a help as well as the Edge of Arabia travelling caravan of exhibitions. Sometimes artists themselves drop by in Amsterdam or have a husband or friend deliver a work. Some artists have also worked with galleries in Europe making things easy for us.
Any artist working and living in Saudi Arabia or strongly connected with it can submit work. In any case we will add their name to the dictionary with a link to their page or with a short introduction by us. We try at the very least to acquire three new works every year.
The museum has a permanent exhibition only, which changes around when new works arrive and others are assigned to our depot.