The Ministry of Foreign Affairs art collection

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is active somewhere in the world every hour of the day, and available to help Dutch nationals who are abroad for short or long stays. It maintains the Netherlands' relations with other countries from The Hague and through its worldwide network of over 150 missions, and works with other ministries to shape the future of Europe.


The art collection of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BZ), which presently consists of around 12,000 works, is housed in 300 Dutch embassies and residences abroad. The collection came into being in the 1950s and features works of art from various periods and disciplines. Each work is unique, yet they all contain a Dutch element or refer directly to the country in which they are on display. The collection consists exclusively of Dutch artists or artists who have worked in the Netherlands for an extended period of time. Besides Old Masters like Ruysdael and Israëls, there are works by the Cobra group, Armando, Marc Mulders and many contemporary photographers.

Art policy
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is keen to support the visual arts by making Dutch art known outside the Netherlands. By purchasing contemporary art, the Ministry seeks to create insight into the developments and trends current in the Dutch art world of today. BZ art graces the walls of embassies and residences, giving these buildings an identity of their own. In addition, it plays a role in diplomacy by helping to build an image of the Netherlands abroad. In The Hague, too, art plays a significant part in the BZ working environment. The photography on display there supports the primary process by inspiring the staff and encouraging them to view the world with an open mind.
Besides acquiring and managing its own collection, BZ also actively commissions art. There are now over 40 monumental works of art at Dutch missions abroad. By virtue of their size and the way they are displayed, they can be seen not only by staff, but also by visitors to the building or even chance passers-by.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs collection came into being in the 1950s, when various Dutch ambassadors made personal selections of art and antiques from the national collection for their residences abroad. In this way, the collection continued to grow through time. When the Ministry moved to its present premises in the 1980s, the need for a new art policy arose. In the past, the emphasis had been on embassies and official residences, but it then shifted more towards the Ministry's headquarters in The Hague. While collection items abroad have been chosen to promote and reflect the Netherlands' identity in all its artistic diversity, at BZ headquarters the focus is on contemporary photography.

From the collection
Jan van der Ploeg

Untitled, 2012

Collections November 6, 2017
Art-Walk Rijnstraat
Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken
Collections January 3, 2017
Het dagelijks werk
Collections April 21, 2016
‘The Gift’ van Navid Nuur
siert entree van het nieuwe Internationaal Strafhof
Collections April 21, 2016
Kunst op het Marine terrein
tijdens het EU-Voorzitterschap 2016
Collections April 15, 2015
Videokunst tijdens GCCS 2015
16 en 17 april, BuZa
Collections September 19, 2014
UNSEEN gezien bij BZ
In summary

Collection title
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs art collection

Philippien Noordam

Head office
The Hague

Art collection locations
300 Dutch embassies and official residences abroad and the premises of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague

Number of art works
About 12,000

Launch year
Began with loaned items in 1950. From 1980, items acquired through procurement policy.

Paintings, photography, drawings, graphics, sculptures, Dutch design, commissioned artworks.

Focus of collection
Each work is unique, yet they all contain a Dutch element or refer directly to the country in which they are on display. Only photographic works are acquired for the Ministry headquarters.

Guided tours
By appointment


Art collection website

- Verily Klaassen, Identiteit dankzij diversiteit, 2012
- Roos van Put, More than red, white and blue: Kunstaankopen door het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, The Hague, 2001 (accompanying the exhibition of the same name)
- Roos van Put, Art Survival Kit (ASK), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Hague, 2004
- Wijnand Galema (et al.), In opdracht: Zestig jaar percentageregeling beeldende kunst bij Rijksgebouwen, Amsterdam, 2011

External presentations
More than Red, White and Blue, The Hague Municipal Museum, 2001-2002