Moco Museum: Contemporary art in Amsterdam

Banksy and Dalí on show in one museum? When I heard that, I was definitely up for a day trip to Amsterdam to visit the new Moco Museum.

Moco Museum

Moco stands for Modern Contemporary Museum and, like the much better-known Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum, it is located on the Museumplein in Amsterdam. The museum inhabits a former private home, then school, then law office, built in 1904.

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The Moco Museum in Amsterdam is in what used to be a large house. It's a bit of a mishmash of styles, red brick with concrete around the windows and some half-tudor elements on the top floor.
The Moco Museum in Amsterdam

Created by gallery owners Lionel and Kim Logchies, Moco is a private museum. As far as I can tell, it has no collection of its own. Instead, the owners will borrow the artworks for exhibits using the contacts they’ve built up as gallery owners.

When I visited, the Moco Museum had two exhibitions going on: one showing works by the famous graffiti artist, Banksy, and one with works by surrealist Salvador Dalí.

Added March 16, 2020: The Banksy exhibit has been extended. The other exhibits at the moment are Studio Irma and JR Room, plus a permanent exhibit of a mix of artists.

You might also enjoy these sights in Amsterdam:

Banksy in Amsterdam

The Banksy exhibition “Laugh Now” is contradictory by nature. After all, while Banksy has done traditional works of art for hanging inside on a wall, his fame comes from his powerful, often political, graffiti. By definition, graffiti appears on outside walls, on buildings and bridges: public spaces. (Banksy, by the way, is a pseudonym. As a graffiti artist, he guards his anonymity.)

The painting shows a monkey riding a rocket, superimposed on what looks like an image of the world exploding, but the rays resemble the Japanese flag.
One of Banksy’s political works, but this particular version is on canvas rather than a wall.

So how can you exhibit it indoors? Some of the works seem to have been physically cut from a wall, judging by the thickness of the surface. Others were originally painted onto, for example, wooden doors, so they could simply be removed.

While many of these works still send the same political message – a child hugging a missile, for instance, or monkeys wearing sandwich boards – this context diminishes their effect. Political street art is meant to be a subversive surprise: something that you might not initially notice as you walk down the street, but that has an impact once you do. It’s also something that everyone can see, without the barrier of an entrance fee.

On a traffic sign of a white arrow on a blue background, the stencil shows a young girl hugging a rocket.
On a traffic sign, you might not initially even notice the stencil Banksy added.

Nevertheless, the Moco Museum’s collection is intriguing. Many of Banksy’s familiar motifs are here: the child releasing a heart-shaped balloon, for example, and various images of his “love rat.” And they’re here in multiple iterations, which led me as a viewer to wonder at the differences between the images. Below are a number of the rat images from the exhibition:

I recognized his image of a street protester, face hidden by a kerchief, throwing a bunch of flowers instead of a rock. A slightly different version of it hangs in the lobby of the Walled-Off Hotel (also generally known as the Banksy Hotel), which I visited recently in Bethlehem in the West Bank. The rat images were familiar too, but not in so many poses. In the slideshow below, you can see a sampling of other Banksy works on show at the Moco Museum.

If you like Banksy’s work, check out Artsy’s page on the artist


Update added March 3, 2019: The Salvador Dalí exhibit described below has closed.

Get skip-the-line tickets to the Moco Museum by clicking here .


Salvador Dalí at the Moco Museum

It was a brilliant idea to pair Banksy with Dalí. Both create confrontational, challenging art, even if the messages themselves are different. Certainly Banksy’s art is surrealistic, even though Dalí is far more often associated with surrealism.

It's hard to describe this one. In the middle is a vague line drawing of a bull with long horns, but it also has bones sticking out of its sides. Along the left side is a painted or inked figure that seems to have a pharaoh's head at the top left corner, but the body is more of a brick wall and morphs into a sort of grey rock at the bottom, but the rock has a face. On the right are two simple pyramid shapes.
One of a series of lithographs depicting the Exodus story.

However, since I visited the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres, Spain, just last summer, the exhibition at the Moco Museum seemed meager in comparison. The space devoted to Dalí was considerably less than the Banksy section: almost an afterthought.

Perhaps because the space was smaller, for example, one of Dalí’s famous sofas in the shape of Mae West’s lips stood in a small room. Behind it on the wall were pictures representing the rest of her face. At the museum in Spain, a version of the same work fills most of a room and all the parts except the eyes are three-dimensional. The image on the left below is the one in the Moco Museum in Amsterdam; the one on the right is in the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres.

Nevertheless, the collection includes the iconic melted watches in a form I hadn’t seen before: sculpture rather than painting. The melted watch motif, along with others like his elephant with stick legs (a statue of which greets visitors just inside the entrance), and references to his wife, Gala, are all key parts of his work, and this show includes examples of each.

The watch or clock is made of brass, I think and sits on a metal tree trunk that forks and then ends, otherwise bare. On the main fork of the tree the watch lies across both branches and appears to drip downwards.
One of several of Dali’s melted watch statues at the Moco Museum.

Visiting the Moco Museum

  • Address: Museumplein: Honthorststraat 20. From the central train station, take tram #2 toward Nieuw Sloten or #12 toward Amstelstation and get off at the Rijksmuseum stop (about 15 minutes).
  • Website: https://www.mocomuseum.com
  • Skip-the-line tickets are €15.50 or $17.20.
  • Phone: +31 (0)20 370 19 97
  • Opening hours: daily 9-19:00.
PInnable image
Text: Moco Museum Amsterdam and the Rachel's Ruminations logo
Images: top is an image of people in riot gear running through a green field, arms flung out like they are children frolicking. Middle is a picture of a rat holding a stick of lipstick with which it has drawn a heart on a wall. Bottom is an image of a rioter with a scarf covering his mouth, in a pose of throwing a brick, but he is throwing a bouquet of flowers.

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about Rachel

Hi, I’m Rachel!

Rachel’s Ruminations is a travel blog focused on independent travel with an emphasis on cultural and historical sites/sights. I also occasionally write about life as an expatriate. I hope you enjoy what I post here; feel free to leave comments! Read more...

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Oh my goodness! I’ve actually been to this museum, and I can hardly even look at your pictures because it makes me want to go back to my favorite city in the world. When I was there the exhibit was Banksy and Warhol… but omgsh the Dali exhibits look amazing!!!! This museum is really cool.

I totally agree with what you say about Banksy being in a museum! Doesn’t make much sense to me either haha, buuuut for Banksy I might be convinced to actually go to a museum haha.

The Moco Museum is definitely one I would enjoy! What an opportunity to see the works of Banksy and Dali. It’s great they let you photograph their works. I really enjoyed your article and photos!

Perfect timing because we’re going to be in Amsterdam over the summer and have already visited the other museums. This sounds like a great addition, and I’d love to see the Banksy exhibit!

I like that there’s a melted watch sculpture here – I didn’t even realize Dali made any. So even if the rest of the collection was meagre, that would make it interesting.

I’d go to the Moco Museum just to see the inside of that magnificent old house it is in! BTW, does anyone know how many Dali museums there are in the world? They seem to be everywhere.

I’ve often wondered about the logic of putting street art in a gallery – some cities seem to have permanent street art collections. It shows that it has now become accepted as an art form but, on the other hand, one of the main features of street art is that it is changing all the time.

I would lovd to visit the Moco Museum! It looks fab. Another great addition to Amsterdam!

You found a little gem with the Moco Museum. Most of the paintings of Dali I like but watch sculpture is quite something! I didn’t know about Banksy, the sprayer. The motives make me thoughtful. Great that his art gets exposure like this.

I love the MOCO, I can’t remember which exhibit was there when we were there last but I’d love to see Banksy.

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