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Sailing, swimming, fishing, skating.... Blue bliss! 23.05.2016

Blue bliss shows water sports and related activities in the Dutch landscape. For this exhibition, guest curator Maartje van den Heuvel has selected almost 150 works highlighting the art of having fun on and in the water and along the waterside. The works come from Dutch museums as well as private collections and also from contemporary artists. Blue bliss has been realized in conjunction with Leiden University and through the support of Waterrecreatie Nederland. You are very welcome to visit the exhibition in our Indoor Museum up to 6 November.


The Netherlands and water are inextricably linked. True, the history of this subject may at times seem frightening, due to climate changes and rising sea levels. But there is one important aspect that is frequently overlooked: the Dutch and tourists visiting this country enjoy the water! Blue bliss sings the praises of having fun on and in the water and along the waterside in the Dutch landscape as visualized in art throughout the centuries. Guest curator Maartje van den Heuvel, special collections curator of the Leiden University Libraries and a PhD researcher in the history of arts, selected some 150 works of art; from paintings from the Golden Age to photographs made by contemporary artists and sometimes even witty amateur videos. A variety of subjects is dealt with: boating, designing and building yachts, swimming, angling, fun on the ice, landscape art, old artistic traditions in modern work as well as representations of the landscapes themselves. As you will see, these activities have a long and beautiful Dutch history – but that applies to no lesser extent to the way they have been visualized.

Illustrated book Blue bliss 

To accompany the exhibition, a book of the same name has been published in a Dutch and an English version – by WBOOKS Publishers. Apart from Maartje van den Heuvel, André Groeneveld (Zuiderzee Museum), Elisabeth Spits (Shipping Museum), and Suzanne Loen and Inge Bobbink (Delft University of Technology) have contributed essays in which they discuss the art and cultural history of enjoying water in this country. The book of the same name Blue Bliss is available for €24.95 in the Museum shop.

Water sports in the Netherlands

Committed public partners in Waterrecreatie Nederland are provinces, the Union of Water Boards, municipalities and the State. Private partners in the board of Waterrecreatie Nederland are ANWB, HISWA Vereniging, Platform Waterrecreatie and Sportvisserij Nederland. Together they represent more than one million organized and individual water sportsmen. It concerns water recreation in the widest possible sense: from yachting, for example, to motor boating, from angling to kite surfing and from water skiing to scuba diving and canoeing. Further, within the HISWA Association about one thousand water sports-related companies (from builders of super yachts to sailing schools) are active, both in this country and abroad. Together they are responsible for two-thirds of the turnover and employment in the sector. The water recreation sector in its entirety accounts for a € 2.5 billion turnover and provides employment to 25,000 people, who in their turn ensure that two million Dutch people can have fun on the water and along the waterside.