Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam

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Foam or Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam is a photography museum located at the Keizersgracht in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The museum has four different exhibitions at any given time in which many different photographic genres are shown, such as documentary, art and fashion. Two shows which received much critical acclaim as well as many visitors were Henri Cartier-Bresson - A Retrospective, containing the work by French photographer and Magnum founder Henri Cartier-Bresson and Richard Avedon - Photographs 1946 -2004, a major retrospective of the work by Richard Avedon. Next to large exhibitions by well-known photographers, Foam also shows the work of young and upcoming photographers, in shorter running exhibitions. The museum contains a cafe, a library, a commercial gallery called FoamEditions, as well as a bookshop.

The museum also publishes a quarterly photography magazine called Foam Magazine.

Visitor numbers:

  • 2004 – 68.000
  • 2005 – 101.000
  • 2006 – 127.000
  • 2007 – 117.000
  • 2008 – 127.000
  • 2009 – 150.000 (up until October 1)



Foam received permission in November 2001 from the city council for the start-up. On December 13, 2001, Foam opened its doors with its first exhibition Dutch Delight. In a short space of time more than 7000 people visited the exhibition in which Dutch light played a prominent or self-evident role.

After the opening exhibition the museum closed for renovation. Architects BenthemCrouwel turned three buildings at the Keizersgracht into a modern museum. The first exhibition in the new museum, called Regie: Paul Huf had a special meaning for Foam as Paul Huf together with Eva Besnyö was the originator of the museum. The official opening took place on June 6, 2002. The exhibition was visited by approximately 8000 people.

Museum Fodor

The monumental building on the Keizersgracht canal in which Foam is located, has a history going back to Carel Joseph Fodor (1801–1860). Little is known about Fodor. His father, Antoine Fodor, was an eminent musician, master of the orchestra at Felix Meritis. He could not make ends meet with his music and therefore started working in the coal trade. His son took over his business and became very rich.

Carel Fodor first bought the Keizersgracht 611. Later he also bought the adjacent warehouse and residential house. Fodor started to collect paintings, drawings and prints from 1834 onwards. His preference went out to contemporary art, works by ‘living masters’. Fodor quickly opened up his house to the general public, where many art lovers visited to see his collection by appointment. Rumours about Fodor’s death are manifold, he allegedly committed suicide in the canal in front of his house, or had been found dead in the warehouse.

When Fodor died, he bequeathed his collection to the city of Amsterdam. He also left behind a large sum of money to turn his house into a museum. Fodor destined Keizersgracht 609, the warehouse, in his testament as the exhibition space that should receive the name Museum Fodor. It should become a permanent exhibition space for his personal collection. The building was renovated in 1861 by Cornelis Oudhoorn. In 1863 Museum Fodor opened its doors as the first museum of modern art.

From 1863 to 1994 Museum Fodor welcomed many people. In the early years the museum attracted a large number of visitors, but as the years passed by these numbers dwindled. In 1948 the collection was stored in a depot and the museum became a separate location of the Stedelijk Museum. In 1963 the complete collection was taken over by the Amsterdams Historisch Museum. From 1994 until 2001 the Nederlands Vormgevingsinstituut was located in the buildings.

Exhibition Policy

Every year Foam organises four large exhibitions in which attention is paid to the big names within photography - icons that have been paramount within the history of the medium. Such exhibitions usually run for about three months. In conjunction about 16 shorter running exhibitions are organised by the museum, which can be very different in character: it can be either the work of relatively young photographers, or a specific project, work that is currently relevant, small retrospectives or the presentation of new developments within the medium. An emphasis is generally put on documentary photography, street photography, portrait and glamour photography, and young and upcoming talents.

Exhibitions in Foam that fall under the category of documentary photography are for example Avenue Patrice Lumumba by Guy Tillim, The Hyena & Other Men by Pieter Hugo, and In the Shadow of Things by Leonie Purchas.

Exhibitions containing street photography are for example Helen Levitt with In the Street, the retrospective by Weegee and Tom Wood’s Photieman.

Recent shows with portrait or glamour photography are Photographs 1946-2004 by Richard Avedon, Chemises by Malick Sidibé, and People of the 20th Century by August Sander.

Under the denominator Foam_3h small shows by young photographers are presented in the library in Foam. Recent examples include Control by Emilie Hudig, in which she reports on her treatment of Hodgkin’s disease, and A Place to Wash the Heart by Monieka Bielskyte, in which she shows us a world in which dreams become reality and reality a dream by using dark and often mysterious images.


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